Funding crisis continues
Insufficient and unpredictable public education funding to school districts have been blamed as the big reasons why school boards throughout BC struggle to balance their school district budget.
After almost a decade of cuts, closures and layoffs, these measures still remain as the only alternatives for cutting costs in order to balance the annual school district budget.
Cuts to district programming translates into doing less for each student in programs that range from music to behaviour intervention. Province wide layoffs coming June 30 could include 1,000 teachers; in excess of 500 education assistants and support staff. The imminent closure of 50 more BC public schools is expected. The quality of public education in this province is being undermined by chronic underfunding which has led to every possible scheme being used to maintain adequate district staffing and services to students. See boards awash in red ink.
Trustees call for increased funding and consultation
Resolutions carried at the recent BCSTA AGM illustrated the anger, the frustration, and perhaps the fear felt by many trustees.
That the Ministry of Education establish a Royal Commission to “determine what is adequate funding and to further inform newly mandated initiatives and innovations for public education in the 21st century and that BCSTA convene a public education action group to develop a vision for public education.”
That government not impose changes to the existing composition of the locally elected boards of education without a public, comprehensive review of governance that involves BCSTA, trustees and the public.
That BCSTA AGM express support for elected trustees and boards of education who are advocating for additional funding for public education.
That BCSTA advocate on behalf of boards of education and BCSTA branches with the Ministry of Education to increase direct meetings with boards and branches allowing for adequate time for dialogue and questions.
Support staff union calls for emergency summit
At the recent CUPE BC Annual General Meeting, deep concerns with the inconsistency of education funding and the apparent intimidation of trustees and school boards were voiced. Delegates called on the provincial government to convene an emergency summit bringing together the education partners to address the funding crisis facing school districts throughout the province.
There was a call for an independent assessment of the provincial government’s claim that they are providing the “highest funding ever” to school districts.
CUPE further indicated they will support elected trustees and boards of education who are advocating for fair funding, including the Vancouver Board of Education which has been subjected to arbitrary and intimidating actions by the provincial government.
In 2011, it won’t be a matter of closing a school, adding minutes to the school day, or eliminating a bus. The only place left to cut is school programs. The question is which school program is reduced or eliminated?
All public education stakeholders agree that a comprehensive review of education funding is needed. Strong community advocacy for a fully funded public education system does make a difference. In 2010, some of the funding lost in previous budgets was restored due to public pressure.
What can I do?
You can help to continue the pressure: