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New West to receive about $700,000 in new education funding

New Student and Family Affordability Fund could help out with meal programs and school activities and support families facing financial hardships
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The province has announced new funding to help districts ensure students are fed and have the school supplies they need in the 2022/2023 school year.

Meal programs, field trips and school activities, and supports for families facing financial hardships – those are some of the ways the New Westminster school district may use newly announced education funding.

On Aug. 29, the province announced the $60-million Student and Family Affordability Fund, which has been created to help school districts ensure students are fed and have the school supplies they need to be successful this year.

"Many families in B.C. are feeling the effects of global inflation on daily costs, including groceries, school supplies and other school expenses," New Westminster MLA Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s minister of education and child care, said in a news release. "We're taking action by providing more funding that school districts will use to help meet the needs of families and students."

According to the news release, the one-time funding will be provided directly to school districts to help them expand school meal programs, to make sure students have the school supplies they need and to cover any additional fees so students in need can take part in activities, such as field trips.

Karim Hachlaf, superintendent of New Westminster schools, said the Student and Family Affordability Fund will result in the transfer of almost $700,000 to the local school district.

“We will be taking the next few weeks to consult with schools, parents, and other key stakeholders to determine how this money can best support the specific needs of families in our community, as we work as partners to distribute this funding,” he said in a letter being sent out to parents.

This will include looking at:

• Possible expansions to meal programs through food purchases or subsidies, as the district works to ensure kids have easy access to healthy breakfasts and lunches.

• How funding may be able to cover field trip, school and other activity fees – to ensure costs are never a barrier to full participation in learning.

• Additional supports for those facing financial hardships.

“We know how important this funding will be to all students and families, but particularly those who have been the most impacted by affordability challenges over the last year,” Hachlaf said. “We thank you for your patience as we seek more guidance on the details and determine how these funds can be most equitably applied.”

Hachlaf said the district will be following up on “this good news” with more details in September.

According to the province, districts will work with parent advisory councils and school communities, as well as local First Nations and other Indigenous organizations, regarding local priorities that will best meet the needs of diverse student populations.

"Parent advisory councils across the province know all too well that the increasing costs of school supplies, healthy food, and school activity charges are just some of the items that make the return to school a financial hardship for some parents,” Chris Schultz-Lorentzen, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils said in the news release. “The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils strongly supports this government initiative, which will allow individual schools and school districts to provide some financial relief to assist the families who need it most."

Through the Student and Family Affordability Fund, every school district will receive a minimum of $250,000, states the province.

"This is wonderful news for families struggling with the increased cost of living,” said Carolyn Broady, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association. “Local school districts and boards of education, who know their communities best, will use these funds to support families in need through their existing programs and initiatives."