Installing tampon and pad dispensers in all the schools and district buildings could cost $356,000, according to a Surrey Schools staff report.
The report states that the project will allow for menstrual products to be in six washrooms in each of the 20 secondary school; three washrooms in each of the 101 elementary school; and two washrooms in learning centres, Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning, the District Education Centre and the Resource and Education Centre. There will also be products in one or more gender neutral and/or handicapped access washrooms at each site.
In April, the Ministry of Education issued a ministerial order that requires all B.C. public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019.
The report from Surrey Schools breaks down the estimated project cost between the different sites, and includes the cost of product inventory, site preparation and disposal bins. The dispensers are $459 each, and the disposal bins are $25 per unit.
The cost of the initiative, according to the report, is “not reflected in the district’s 2019/20 operating budget.”
If funding or budget capacity isn’t available, the report says the district may consider an alternative implementation plan of providing the products in baskets on washroom counters, but staff’s preferred option is dispensers to make sure the pads and tampons “remain tidy and hygienic.”
The report, dated June 5, says “the Ministry of Education has not committed to funding districts for start-up costs.”
However, when the ministry announced the ministerial order, it said it came with “$300,000 provincial startup funding.”
Surrey trustee Terry Allen said the concern is “will Surrey’s share of the $300,000 cover all our costs for implementation.”
A statement from the ministry says that “full costs have not yet been determined,” adding that over the next few months, the ministry will “continue to work with school districts, community and education partners to assess the individual needs of each district, identify gaps, and ensure that school districts have the resources and supports needed on an ongoing basis to officially institute this new requirement.
“The $300,000 is start-up funding so school districts can immediately provide students with equal and stigma-free access to free menstrual products in school washrooms. The $300,000 has been provided to ERAC-BCEM society, a not-for-profit organization that services the K-12 education sector and provides coordinated support and centralized purchasing services for BC’s 60 school districts.
The district, according to the report, will also have to develop “policies and procedures regarding the provision of menstrual products,” and staff will have a draft policy and regulation for presentation to the policy committee at its first meeting of the 2019/2020 school year.
Another requirement is student feedback in developing its policy and regulation, and a survey will be distributed to students this month.
A preliminary project timeline shows the equipment being installed in schools in October/November.