With 150 public schools in BC closed since 2001 and 45 more threatened with closure, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation is challenging Minister Bond to show where the money for education is going.
“School districts have barely received enough money to cover negotiated salary agreements with all its employee groups,” says Lanzinger. “There is no new money to reduce class sizes, nothing for students with special needs, and no more money for districts to avoid the thankless tasks they are undertaking, like closing schools. If school districts are receiving the highest funding in history as the minister claims, then where is the money going?”
The Minister of Education claims that schools must close because our province is losing school-age students. However with student numbers in BC down a mere 6%, the majority of the school closures in BC have nothing to do with declining enrolment. Furthermore the declining enrolment argument for closing schools mistakenly assumes that all or most of the decline is happening in specific schools. In one of the larger school districts in the Lower Mainland for instance, nearly all schools are being reconfigured and some closed, yet the decline expected in the upcoming school year for the entire district is only 46 children.
The BCTF will be holding a news conference to discuss school closures in British Columbia on Monday April 7, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., in the Saltspring Room at the Hotel Grand Pacific, 463 Belleville Street, Victoria. Speakers will be Irene Lanzinger, president of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, and Jessica Van derVeen, a parent in School District 61 (Greater Victoria) and one of the founders of LANDS (Let’s Agree Not to Dispose of Schools). In addition, several Lower Island presidents and members of LANDS will be present and have agreed to be interviewed.