Pine Beetle grant keeps grounds safe and dollars in the classroom

Ten BC school boards will receive a cheque next week to offset the cost of removing pine beetle-infested trees from local school grounds. These funds are part of a one million dollar grant announced by Education Minister Shirley Bond at the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) annual general meeting in Prince George in April 2006.

?School boards have worked together through BCSTA to share the provincial funding in an equitable way,? BCSTA President Penny Tees said. ?I?m very pleased to report that the funding has been sufficient to fully reimburse all applicants for the cost of tree removal, removal equipment and grounds repair where beetle-infested trees posed a risk to student safety. This program has made it possible for school boards to keep their grounds safe without taking money from education programs.?

BCSTA?s process for allocating the funds was guided by recommendations from an ad hoc committee, led by retired forestry range technician and BCSTA Past President Gordon Comeau. The committee surveyed school boards and made recommendations to the BCSTA Board of Directors on fair and equitable allocation criteria, as well as an application process for the mountain pine beetle grant.

Allocation criteria included:

Only affected trees in areas used by students will be included.

Only removal costs and grounds repairs will be included.

Replanting and site beautification will not be included.

Money earned through the sale of cut trees must be reported and will be deducted from the removal costs.

The cost of equipment purchased specifically for tree removal may be included.

Receipts must be provided for all expenses claimed.

School boards receiving the grant are:

School District 5 (Southeast Kootenay) $21,071.74

School District 8 (Kootenay Lake) $1,049.40

School District 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) $29,780.50

School District 28 (Quesnel) $14,552.05

School District 57 (Prince George) $508,131.54

School District 58 (Nicola-Similkameen) $5,208.77

School District 67 (Okanagan Skaha) $766.80

School District 73 (Kamloops/Thompson) $23,102.39

School District 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) $17,124.00

School District 93 Conseil scolaire francophone $25,610.45