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Literacy programs facing cutbacks

“I’m not sure what else we can do except to make sure that people in our community talk to the value of this, of the early literacy program that’s being run.” -Alan Harrison - Observer file photo
“I’m not sure what else we can do except to make sure that people in our community talk to the value of this, of the early literacy program that’s being run.” -Alan Harrison
— image credit: Observer file photo

Actions may speak louder than words when it comes to convincing the province to continue its support of local literacy programming.

Coun. Alan Harrison had no problem acquiring the support of his peers on Salmon Arm council, to have the city write a letter to Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo advocating for the province’s ongoing support of the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap (LASS).

The letter will include an invitation to the MLA to visit some of the sites where LASS’s programming is making a difference among young readers.

“I would invite him personally to my school, but there’s many other places he can go to so that we can show him the value of the program,” said Harrison, commenting both as a councillor and school principal at Hillcrest Elementary.

The invitation to Kyllo comes in response to a Feb. 18 letter by the MLA to the city, in which he responds to concerns of city council regarding future funding for LASS.

The program currently relies on annual funding through the Ministry of Education, redistributed through Decoda Literacy Solutions. In January, Decoda learned it would only be receiving $1 million, as opposed to the $2.5 million required to fund the 102 literacy co-ordinator positions in the province.

Kyllo notes in his letter how the B.C. government is reviewing priorities and budgets in all ministries, and is “increasingly constrained in our ability to provide sustained funding for initiatives we have supported in the past.

“We appreciate your need to confirm funding as soon as possible to plan for the upcoming year, and we will be finalizing our decision as soon as possible,” writes Kyllo.

Harrison said the MLA’s letter wasn’t very encouraging.

“I think, as a council and as a community, we need to recognize that for the very small amount of funding that LASS received and (co-ordinator) Jennifer Findlay manages, the return on that money is huge, in my perspective as an educator,” said Harrison.

“I’m not sure what else we can do except to make sure that people in our community talk to the value of this, of the early literacy program that’s being run. It’s high-profile and it’s being done cheaply.”

Harrison then referred to another letter to the city from the B.C. government, seeking support for Sing Me A Song B.C., a  program offering money to come up with a song for the country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

“I don’t know if these ministries talk to one another, but to me, starting up a new program or a new competition about making a Sing a Song B.C. program, I don’t know how much that costs, but I would rather see that money go to this one,” he said.

Findlay has encouraged Shuswap residents to show their support for LASS by writing Kyllo at greg.kyllo.mla@leg.bc.ca, or in hard copy to Greg Kyllo, MLA, East Annex, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4, with a copy to Education Minister Peter Fassbender at educ.minister@gov.bc.ca or PO Box 9045, Stn Prov. Govt., Victoria, B.C., V8W 9E2.

 

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