A police officer will continue to patrol the halls of a Charlottetown high school until the end of January but that’s it.
Colonel Gray High School and the City of Charlottetown wanted to keep Const. Tim Keizer on until the end of the year but there’s only enough funding to take the pilot project until the end of the first semester.
The first semester ends Jan. 31.
The city has been funding the program up until now but needed the provincial government to chip in $30,000 to keep Keizer in place until June.
Education Minister Alan McIsaac said government certainly endorses the initiative but that’s as far as it can go right now.
“We just don’t have the dollars at the present time,’’ McIsaac said Tuesday.
“We’re focusing on student achievement and that’s where we’re at. Our budget is pretty much set for the year but we did offer . . . to set up a meeting with the school board, the (government) departments and the police force and see what we could do going forward.’’
Kevin Whitrow, principal at the Gray, said Keizer’s presence at the school has been invaluable.
“It’s the effectiveness. When he’s here he has the relationships with the kids and with the staff and he knows the big picture. He knows what the appropriate thing to do is,’’ Whitrow said.
Coun. David MacDonald, chairman of protective and emergency services, said it is estimated 40 per cent of the students have a substance abuse problem to the extent they take drugs once a day or more.
MacDonald said it’s all well and good for the province to say that its priorities are numeracy and literacy but it’s awfully hard to concentrate if students are impaired.
“When you have 40 per cent of your students operating at below their possible capacity because they’re impaired in some way, that affects the delivery of the programs,’’ MacDonald said. “This is not just a question about drugs or alcohol or traffic or speeding or bullying, it also has a direct impact on the delivery of the educational programs.’’
Whitrow said Keizer has been effective in terms of the drug issue at the school, speeding or driving erratically in the parking lot and loitering off school grounds in places such as Holy Redeemer Church.
The Gray was initially supposed to be part of a pilot project with Charlottetown Rural but when the money wasn’t there to pay for it both schools agreed that the Gray should try it out for a year.
Whitrow said the school needs the officer to stay past Jan. 31.
“I’m afraid if we don’t have the full year of data and we don’t really have that full year of experience it may just be forgotten,’’ the principal said.
McIsaac said government has 63 schools to worry about across the province and is doing what it can, where it can.