Free pad and tampon dispensers to be installed in all New Westminster schools in time for September

Trustees will vote on the proposal at its Feb. 26 school board meeting

New Westminster made history last week by becoming the first school district in the province to fund free pad and tampon dispensers at all its schools.

Starting in September, there will be at least one coin-free dispenser on every floor of every school if the school board approves a recommendation made by the operations policy and planning committee. The dispensers would be installed in girls’ washrooms and in all universal washrooms.

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The set-up cost is estimated at about $9,784, which includes the cost of purchasing 30 coin-free dispensers and enough pads and tampons to stock them, according to a report presented to trustees at Tuesday night’s operations policy and planning committee meeting.

“The important thing for us was that the units can be moved as we’re building new schools,” secretary-treasurer Kim Morris said.

The dispensers that will be installed at New Westminster Secondary and Richard McBride Elementary will eventually be moved to the new schools when they open.

The ongoing cost to stock the dispensers is estimated at about $7,000 per year, depending on use, Morris noted.

Trustees said given the reasonable cost to install and stock the dispensers, they were happy to approve purchase and installation. Trustees also asked that staff reach out to the school principals and parent advisory councils to make there’s some communication between school administration, parents and students.

The proposal will be voted on at the Feb. 26 school board meeting.

The decision comes one month after Vancouver mom and Douglas College teacher Selina Tribe appeared before the school board to ask them to support installation of free pad and tampon dispensers in school bathrooms.

Tribe said the current practice at most schools expects girls to have their own period products and if they don’t, they have to seek out a counsellor, nurse or school administrator to get a pad or tampon.

“You’re asking girls, who are bleeding, to go walking down stairs, across the school to try and find somebody,” Tribe said.

“Then they have to go trotting back up to the bathroom, clean themselves up and deal with this. I think it’s outrageous, frankly. When you consider that the boys go into the bathroom and they have ... all their bodily needs covered, but the case is not the same for the girls.”

Burnaby and Vancouver school districts are also considering installing the coin-free dispensers in their schools. No decisions have been made yet.

How many dispensers will each school have?

  • Connaught Heights Elementary: 1
  • Hume Park Homelearners: 1
  • F.W. Howay Elementary: 1
  • Lord Kelvin Elementary: 2
  • Richard McBride Elementary: 2
  • Qayqayt Elementary: 2
  • Queen Elizabeth Elementary: 1
  • Herbert Spencer Elementary: 2
  • Lord Tweedsmuir Elementary: 2
  • Fraser River Middle: 4
  • Glenbrook Middle: 3
  • Queensborough Middle: 2
  • New Westminster Secondary: 7

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