Town of Lake Cowichan wants to amend scholarship policy

Coun. McGonigle ignites conversation to give first priority of Town’s scholarship to Lake Cowichan School students

Lake Cowichan council is looking to amend its scholarship policy so that first priority is given to students educated in the town.

Presently, high school students soon to be graduated can apply to the Town of Lake Cowichan for scholarships as long as they live in Lake Cowichan.

Therefore, students who live in Lake Cowichan but attend school outside of the town are eligible for scholarships.

Coun. Tim McGonigle wants to allow that opportunity to remain for all but says Lake Cowichan School graduates should come first.

“I always thought the intent was that it was established mainly for Lake Cowichan School,” said McGonigle at April’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting. “Students have migrated around the valley to say Cowichan Secondary in Duncan or Frances Kelsey in Mill Bay, even though they still live in Lake Cowichan. Should the scholarship money be directed there? I don’t think so. The school here wants us on the same page.”

Coun. Bob Day believes “there isn’t really a right or wrong decision here” and Mayor Ross Forrest agreed.

“If a kid deserves the reward then they should get the recognition,” said the mayor at the meeting. “It’s good to have a little bit of flexibility if there is no suitable applicant. I’d hate to see the scholarship go to one Lake Cowichan School student, who attended school once every three months, if they were the only one that applied ahead of a Cowichan High student that gets straight As.”

Chief administrator Joe Fernandez stated it is an “unwritten policy that the scholarship should go to a student here” and said he would have no problem inserting McGonigle’s wishes into the current policy in writing.

“Areas F and I give scholarships that are limited to the school here,” said Fernandez.

McGonigle is set to stick to his guns.

“The application should say that first priority will be given to students at Lake Cowichan School,” he said. “I’m not for limiting it but it’s just so [students not at Lake Cowichan School] know they might not get it.”

The conversation ended with Coun. Frank Hornbrook giving staff direction to amend the policy.