Emergency meeting to discuss community school program

The existence of the Chemainus Crofton Community Schools Association program is in jeopardy following the Cowichan School District's decision to cut its budget by 50% to $28,000.

The cut takes effect for the 2014-15 term, with the fiscal year beginning on July 1.

"This means our Community School Association will no longer exist as we know it,'' noted coordinator Wendy Lambert. "It is impossible for me — or anyone as coordinator — to run and supervise a full slate of programs and activities as we have been doing from a part-time position which will be less than half time.''

An emergency meeting has been called Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Chemainus Elementary Community School for people wanting to voice their concerns.

The objective will be to request the school district reinstate funding, although Lambert admitted, "it is a longshot.''

The CCSA has been around for 14 years, with a coordinator for 10 of those. It has provided programs in community schools for kids, families and community members.

"We operate with a starting budget from the school district which provides for the coordinator position, some office staff and some office supplies,'' explained Lambert. "Then we earn money from grants and user fees for some programs.''

But with a full slate of programs such as kidZsummerCamps, Eagle Wings Preschool/Chemainus StrongStart and Crofton before/after school care, to name a few, it's very unlikely much or any of that would be maintained from a part-time position following the cut.

"What it does is gut the program,'' Lambert said. "Where is other funding going to come from for a community-based program?''

Lambert said she got an email last Thursday about the funding cut and "there was no discussion.''

The meeting will be important, Lambert added, for people to express their feelings and determine some possible solutions.

"I'm certainly open to whatever ideas people come up with,'' she said. "I'm not sure what they will be.''

Lambert noted the program is the only one of its kind left in the valley and it offers so much to a wide variety of people.

"I'm not prepared to do my job as a volunteer,'' she said. "It's just too exhausting. I don't think 100% volunteer work is sustainable.''

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