Saanich school district onboard with dry grad donations

Policy change allows SD63 high schools to accept donations made at B.C. liquor stores

  • Nov. 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

High schools in the Saanich School District will have a little more money to spend on its graduation celebrations this year, as the Saanich board of education voted to amend its donation policies.

On Wednesday (Nov. 13) trustee Tim Dunford’s motion to remove a policy that said the district wouldn’t accept any funding received from business that sell tobacco or alcohol passed by a 5-1 vote.

Since 2001, the Saanich School Board hasn’t participated in the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch’s Support Dry Grad Campaign – which provides money to high schools to pay for local dry grad programs – due to this policy.

“Even though these donations are not sourced from the sale of alcohol – it’s just donated by a customer who happens to be there independently, that was (the policy that) was relied upon by those concerned about sending a wrong message,” Dunford said.

“The majority of the board felt that the gesture of supporting students in the context of a dry grad for celebrating this achievement of graduation was more important than a narrow view that a donation was coming through a facility that happens to sell alcohol. This money has nothing to do with alcohol sales.”

During the campaign, B.C. Liquor Stores provincewide ask customers to donate $1 to the dry grad campaign when they purchase alcohol at the till.

Cindy Nairn, a parent at Claremont secondary who advocated for the change, says she’s ecstatic that the school board supported the move.

“It’s an embarrassment for the (Saanich) district to be one of the only districts not to accept the dry grad money,” she said. “This money now will get divided up amongst the three schools – Claremont, Stelly’s, Parkland – and that’s a big help for them, because purse strings are getting thinner in the communities, and we want to keep these dry grad programs going as long as we can.”

Of the three B.C. Liquor Stores within SD63’s catchment area – Broadmead Village, Trafalgar Square and Sidney – the Broadmead location is the only one that currently participates in the campaign. However, until now, the money raised there has been given to the Greater Victoria School District.

During 2013, the Broadmead Village store collected $1,496 in donations.

Dunford says the policy change comes early enough in the 2013-14 school year that the 2014 grad classes will benefit from this year’s campaign.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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