The jobs of people whose roles are to guide high school students into life after graduation may no longer exist in the Greater Victoria School District come September.
Career coordinator positions are one of numerous areas the school board is considering cutting in its 2022/2023 budget. The move would save up to $343,490 against a $7.2-million deficit.
The career coordinators at Mount Douglas, Reynolds and Lambrick secondary schools say the losses would far outweigh the savings though.
Programs that give students access to post-secondary credits for free, connect them with local employers and assist them in applying to college and university, are all organized by career coordinators. They run career nights, host university speakers and run mock interview sessions.
Students can go to them anytime for one-on-one sessions to discuss what they’re thinking, or not thinking, about doing after graduation and for advice on how to get where they want to be.
“This stuff never used to exist,” said Lynne Turnbull, the Reynolds career coordinator. Parents of high school students likely have little idea about the opportunities and pathways available now, because they weren’t available when they were in school, she said. Career coordinators are up-to-date on all avenues students can take, though.
Because school counsellors – who are also on the potential budget chopping block – are often so busy providing mental health support, career coordinators sometimes take on the role of career counsellors as well, said Stephanie Dawson, who is in the latter role at Mount Doug. A lot of what they can provide is emotional support, especially for students who don’t know what steps they want to take next.
Some of their work even brings revenue back into schools. When the coordinators connect students with trades programs, funds are reinvested into related classes and equipment.
If the positions are cut, up to seven people – one for each SD61 high school – will be out of work.
“There’s no place for us to go,” Dawson said. “It’s not like a teacher where they can just find another teaching job.”
But her, Turnbull and Lambrick Park coordinator Cindy Croucher said it isn’t so much their well-being they’re worried about. They’re concerned future students won’t get the assistance and support they need to launch into a new chapter of their lives.
“I want to fight for this position whether I do it or someone else does,” Croucher said.
The women are set to defend their positions to the SD61 board of trustees during the April 4 budget debate. A petition they started online had about 675 signatures as of March 17.
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