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Policy change aids academic competitions

Students who pursue academic extra curricular activities might soon see the same funding as their athletic peers.

Students who pursue academic extra curricular activities might soon see the same funding as their athletic peers.

The Richmond school district sent a report to the Board of Education in an attempt to help students requiring financial assistance excel in areas where they show potential.

The report seeks to combine the two policies regarding funding for athletics and funding for academics.

Although there is a budget set aside for interscholastic athletic competitions, "no funding is available for students who qualify for provincial academic competitions who would otherwise be eligible to receive funding assistance," wrote school trustee Grace Tsang in the report.

As a result, the district wants to have one policy to cover both activities, creating a standardized process where funds are administered fairly to both sectors.

"We've always had policies for both academics and athletics, but both could never be implemented because of budget constraints," said Tsang, chair of the policy committee. "A budget was only set for athletics."

The idea was brought to the committee's attention by Cambie secondary's robotic design program.

Last year, the program's three teams qualified for the World Robotics Competition in Orlando, Florida, and, while they made the trip, the district was unable to provide any subsidies.

"The teachers at Cambie had requested funding a few times for programs like the robotic design program," said Tsang. "But we weren't able to give them any."

The proposal is only for a policy change and not a funding increase, which means that while it widens the range of activities eligible, it will narrow the scope of what it covers for each.

For example, the current funding model for athletics considers travel, accommodation, and registration costs as items eligible for reimbursement. The new policy would only cover registration and teacher replacement costs.

The change means those participating in athletic competitions could see a decrease in funding, while those in academic contests will receive money they hadn't previously seen.

One of the reasons Cambie secondary had requested a school subsidy was because students found it difficult fundraising in the neighbourhood due to economic restraints, according to Tsang.

Tsang hopes the proposed changes in extracurricular funding can help students, not only meet basic needs, but find ways to pursue other aspects of their lives.

"Necessities can mean extracurricular activities that kids should be part of, so they can be more well-rounded," said Tsang. "It shouldn't just mean food costs, but those things that improve a child's life."

A district report survey on child poverty, conducted in June, is set to be discussed by the Richmond Board of Education next Wednesday.

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