In last month’s edition, I discussed some of the concerns around funding, following a recent Ministry of Education directive to School Boards to find $29 million in additional administrative savings. As I outlined, this district has worked hard to reduce our administrative costs to less than four percent of the total operating budget to ensure we were prepared to meet current fiscal pressures.
School districts have employed a range of strategies when finances became challenging in recent years. Like any organization, the measures taken involve either finding savings or making investment. We are seeing that again this year, as our share of that $29 million pie is about $333,000 – and those savings are expected to be found from an area of the budget that has already been cut in recent years.
While this is taking place very carefully to ensure that available funding is directed into our classrooms, we are also looking at strategies for the future. These examples are generally more proactive, because they seek to build, rather than grind down, the services that students and families expect and deserve.
I was very pleased to update the Board on April 14 that we will be moving forward with a renovation at Ecole Cedardale that has been on hold for several years. This renovation will allow the school’s population to grow from its current 234 to about 275 students over the next five years.
Ecole Cedardale is an amazing success story: the Board reopened the school just nine years ago to offer a single-track French Immersion school in the district. Both Ecole Cedardale and Ecole Pauline Johnson are flourishing, and have waiting lists in many grades. This fall, Ecole Cedardale is working towards becoming the first French Immersion Primary IB School in British Columbia.
At a time when others have closed schools, we have been able to open schools to meet the needs and preferences of families in our region. The most recent data from last fall shows that more families within West Vancouver Schools selected a public education for their children over a private education than at any point in the past decade. Across our community, close to 85 per cent of families sent their children to our public schools last fall. This is an extraordinary reflection on the quality of our programming and people in a district where parents have so many independent options. We also know that the schools in our district continue to be a top destination for families throughout the region and internationally.
While there are many challenges facing our district and others around the province, in the West Vancouver School District, we are looking ahead to evolve and grow. Our Board continues to advocate for increased funding for public schools, and at the same time we are planning unique programming for the future to ensure that public education is the first and best choice for every family.
Superintendent of Schools