April 10, 2014 - 1:53 PM
NORTH OKANAGAN - Access to adult education has narrowed in the North Okanagan.
School district 83 board members cut an adult continuing education program earlier this week. It was a forced decision following changes in how the province funds the service, says trustee Bob Fowler.
“The (funding) formula has changed over the years so the school district was left with supporting that service with less and less direct funding,” Fowler says. “It was costing us money to run it.”
This year, the program generated $65,681 in funding and cost the district $184,789 to operate. Trustee Holly Overgaard says the shortfall in funding was compensated for with money from other areas of the budget, which is impacting students.
"I am sorry we have to do this but when we're faced with cutbacks and hard decisions, I think we have to focus on the kids,” Overgaard said.
Learning centres in most of the district’s communities, all the way from Sicamous to Armstrong, offered the program to adults wanting to upgrade their education.
“We found there was a need to offer such programs (for) the people who had need for a better education to further their careers or upgrade their skills,” Fowler says. “The people that used the program are going to be kind of put out on their own again.”
He says adults seeking education are left with limited options: they can enroll in the regular high school program or take college classes.
It’s a disappointment for all those involved in the program, and Fowler says it will be sorely missed.
“It's a shame that over the years we have set up all of these successful programs and now we have to dismantle them because we don't have enough funding," he says.
The board still has the bulk of the budget left to address, and more cuts could be coming.
“We still have a shortfall to deal with so anything’s possible,” Fowler says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014