A group of 45 R.D. Parker Collegiate students have to scramble for cash after a request for funding to attend We Day in Winnipeg on Oct. 30 was turned down by the School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) board of trustees.
We Day is an initiative of Free The Children, an international charity and educational partner that works with schools to implement the We Act program. We day is in eight cities across Canada and is a movement of young people leading local and global change.
Last year, 30 students from Thompson attended We Day for the first time and we provided with $4,000 in funding from the School District of Mystery Lake, along with additional funding from Vale.
This year, with an increased interest, 45 tickets have been allotted to R.D. Parker students; the tickets are free of charge, but funding is required for travel and lodging and food among other things.
The request made by the school to the board was simply for funding, with no dollar amount specified, a factor that trustee Vince Nowlin made note of.
“We don’t know what the funding is for or what amount is needed,” said Nowlin.
The board agreed to utilize $3,600 left over from last year’s We Day account, though there is still quite a shortfall with $10,000 less in funding and 15 more students attending.
Last year’s funding was OK’d by then superintendent Bev Hammond, due in large part to it being the first mention of the event and there being a shortage on time to put the money together. This year the students have had a full year in preparation and the opinion of many trustees was to set a precedent that they would not hand out money for non-curriculum related trips.
“This is a great event for students interested in social justice and it does have merit,” said trustee Janet Brady, “but a lot of activities have merit and this is not a school-based event.”
SDML Vice-Chair Rob Pellizzaro made a motion to table the decision until the next meeting, citing that it would be a shame with the amount of interest that We Day has garnered from students, if they were unable to go.
The motion was quashed fairly abruptly when trustee Sya Gregovski mentioned the time constraints and it being unfair to make the students wait.
“They (the students) need a decision now, tabling this won’t work,” said Gregovski.
The original resolution was again brought forward and passed with the decision to deny the funding request but to utilize the $3,600 left over in the We Day account.