Riverview mothers concerned about possible cut to student resource program

Mothers in Riverview, N.B., are voicing concerns about what the future could hold for their children if a resource support program is cut from a school.

The Student Learning & Intervention Centre (SLiC) program was offered at Riverview Middle School, starting in October for students who require additional supports for learning and mental health challenges.

But as of now, there is no funding available for the program to be offered in the 2019-20 school year, according to the Anglophone East School District (ASD-E).

“We’ve found strategies and innovative ways to capture the learning abilities of many students across the school, and yet we’re turned down from a budget perspective,” says Jennifer Rowan, the mother of a Grade 7 student.

“Things have to change.”

Jennifer Rowan, whose son has benefitted from SLiC, says the school system needs to adapt to societal changes including increasing mental health and learning challenges

Gregg Ingersoll, the superintendent of the district, says Riverview Middle School requested additional funding for the program to be offered.

“Every year when we give schools their funding, their first priority obviously is to fund the classrooms and the regular things like administration, guidance resources, that kind of thing,” he said in a phone interview with Global News. “In addition to that, if we have additional resources, then we would give those out to schools based on a request that they make to us. Last year, we were able to provide Riverview Middle School with a specific resource for them to run that program.”

But Ingersoll says at this point in time, that funding is not available for the upcoming year.

Gregg Ingersoll says the Anglophone East School District has three vacant school psychologist positions

“If we can support a program like that, we’ll do it,” he said. “Like I say, it was very successful. I went over and visited myself a couple times. I know the kids did some great things. The principal does want to continue that mode of learning and opportunities for those students regardless of what she has. But certainly, if she has the extra resources, it’s a little easier thing for her to do besides having to open up her whole schedule to offer it.”

“I was heartbroken,” says Ty Wilson, a grade seven student, of learning that he might not be able to continue with SLiC. “The SLiC program is for kids like me who can’t do well in big areas with a lot of other students.”

His mother, Tanya Jenkins, says the program allowed her son to grow as a person and student.

“He flourished,” she says. “He came out of his shell from anxiety and depression and was happy.”

Heather Tucker says students will fall through the cracks without programming such as SLiC

As for Heather Tucker, the mother of another student who took part in the program, she says students will again “fall through the cracks” if it’s not reinstated.

“I really just hope that it continues and that the district doesn’t let it disappear, because if it does, what does that say for our students, what does that do for our kids coming up throughout the school system?”

“I think I can speak for all the parents at the introductory session, and as we were sitting there, thinking ‘I don’t know … Do we want to pull our kids out of regular class for a period of time?’ but it was the best decision that any of us ever made,” says Rowan.

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