A new funding formula for rural schools will result in more money for the Prince George school district and will secure the future of Shady Valley elementary school for the foreseeable future.
The district will receive an additional $53,000 in the coming school year. It will get almost $100,000 in 2005/06 and about $120,000 in each of the 2006/07 and 07/08 school years.
“The good news to this is that it brings stability for Shady Valley and the parents and students in the community,” said School District 57 board chair Bill Christie. “We will not be discussing closure.”
Shady Valley actually became the test case that prompted Education Minister Tom Christensen to change the way rural schools are funded, said Christie.
Shady Valley had been denied the $100,000 small community schools grant under the old funding formula on a technicality. It was less than five kilometres from the nearest school as the crow flies, even though it was over 10 kilometres by road.
Shady Valley was threatened with closure until Prince George MLAs Pat Bell and Shirley Bond managed to secure a one-time grant for the school last year, said Christie.
The issue of rural schools within urban boundaries was front and centre when new minister Christensen met with the Prince George school board after taking over the job in February. He reacted, and changed the funding formula to take into account road distances, said Christie.
“It allows the system to capture the few schools in the province that had been missed,” said Bell, MLA for Prince George-North. “It’s good news because Shady is a really integral part of that community. It’s very, very important. Without the elementary school I’m not sure the community survives.”
The district only receives $53,000 this year because the distance to the nearest school is calculated to any school that was open within the last three years. Hart Highway closed two years ago.
After this year, the distance from Shady Valley to Austin Road will be used, resulting in the additional funding, said Christie.