The state of students coming from households living in poverty within the division territory and how those students are affected by the decisions of the Wolf Creek Public Schools Board of Trustees was the main topic of discussion among the trustees on Tuesday, May 19.
Trustee Bob Huff told the board there is a difference between minimum wage and living wage, and many students in the division come from homes that bring in less than a living wage.
“We’ve got to be cognizant of that,” said Huff.
Some students’ behavior, practices and actions in school can be traced back to living in poverty, including such issues as payment of school fees, anxieties and mental illness.
Huff is also concerned youths living in poverty will become more susceptible to human trafficking situations.
“Some of these people who are in these homes really don’t have the capacity to get out,” said Huff.
“We have to be less prejudiced and less stereotypical and found out why these young people are having these difficulties,” he added.
In the WCPS division, there are pre-Kindergarten students who are already facing the challenges of living in poverty the trustees were told.
“As trustees, we make data-driven decisions and part of the data is we have students living in poverty,” said Huff.
He told the other trustees a lack of affordable housing on the market is leaving students couch surfing as they try to go to school. “Not because it’s fun, that’s what they have to do.”
Trustee Pam Hansen added the division and the province was in for a change on who would be affected by poverty; she was referring to oilfield workers. “They’re not going to be able to go for assistance because last year they made $150,000.”
“It’s going to affect these kids hard because there’s not going to be food on the table,” she added.
Hansen says she’s been involved with two homeless families living in her ward in Bentley. “There’s five kids who are without homes right now and I don’t know where they are, I know where two are.”
“It’s the reality right now people are living in,” she added.
She also mentioned drug addiction on the part of adults had contributed to some of these students’ situations.
“It’s a mess and it’s going to get worse,” she added.
The board’s discussion was for information purposes only and no motions were made.