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School District No. 57’s new budget focuses on mental health, Aboriginal education

SD57 approves a balanced $172.7 million budget for 2019-2020
School District No. 57 board office on Ferry Avenue. (via Hanna Petersen).

With a focus on mental health, Aboriginal education supports, WiFi, and replacing old modular classrooms, among other initiatives, School District No. 57 (SD57) has approved a new annual budget.

To be more precise, at its May 28 meeting, the Board of Education approved a balanced $172,714,165 school district budget bylaw for 2019-2020.

Trustee Sharel Warrington says the budget is a “good news” budget because it includes a lot of additional supports for students.

The budget included additional sustainable resources in support of student learning with an emphasis on mental health literacy, the inclusion of a pilot project aimed specifically at capacity building, and a WiFi Refresh project, which will see improvements in technology infrastructure across the district.

Prince George is a growing district for years we have been fighting declining enrollment and closing schools and now we are on an upturn and we have an opportunity to provide additional resources to our students,” said Warrington.

The budget also includes further supports for Indigenous students.

“We have included an increase of Aboriginal Education workers in each of our elementary schools,” says Warrington. “Up to now, not all of our elementary and secondary schools had an Aboriginal Education worker and we are now making sure that every school has an aboriginal education worker.”

The budget also included funding for two Aboriginal vice-principals, one to support Aboriginal language and culture and one to support academic achievement.

“We anticipate this budget is going to make a difference to the work in our schools. It is going directly into schools,” said Warrington. "We have been able to provide additional sustainable resources to support learning this year and as our […] this is a very, very good news budget." 

The budget was developed through the Expanded Committee of the Whole budget consultation process, which took place three times over April and May.

“The additional resource opportunities in supportive learning were developed during our expanded committee of the whole budget consultation process where we included our partner groups, our stakeholders, and the members of that expanded committee who presented their hopes and dreams during the three consultation meeting,” said Warrington.

The committee also received presentations related to the Board’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan.

Here’s a list of resources included in the 2019-2020 Annual Budget:

  • District-led Mental Health Literacy rollout to assist with prevention, early recognition, intervention, and reduction of stigma associated with mental illness
  • Support for two additional teaching Vice Principals to provide school-based leadership and support of student learning in rural communities
  • Support for an Education Assistant mentorship program to ensure staff are appropriately trained and students are receiving supports they need
  • An increase of Aboriginal Education Workers for each Elementary and Secondary school
  • An increase of two Aboriginal Education Social Workers
  • Addition of two Aboriginal Vice Principals, one to support Aboriginal Language and Culture and one to support academic achievement
  • Additional support to Facilities Services Purchasing department

Also, the 2019-2020 Annual Budget includes the appropriation of operating surplus for:

  • A multi-year commitment to support the implementation of a Student Services-led mental health project that focuses on Responses to Intervention and Positive Behaviour Support Interventions in school and classroom environments, a project aimed specifically at capacity building in schools to focus on strategies for mental health literacy and learning
  • A district-wide WiFi refresh project which will improve the technology infrastructure across the district
  • Continued support for the multi-year acquisition of modular units to replace the ageing modular infrastructure in SD57
  • Support for ongoing capital projects identified in schools to enhance the learning environment for students
  • Continued support of projects to conserve energy by monitoring and reducing energy consumption