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VANCOUVER—At a time when the BC Liberal government is forcing school districts to cut $54 million from their budgets, the Ministry of Education arbitrarily gave an additional $5 million to private schools based on gains made by the BC Teachers’ Federation in last year’s strike.

“In calculating this year’s public funding to private schools, the provincial government included in the formula almost $82 million negotiated as the BCTF’s Labour Settlement Fund,” explains BCTF President Jim Iker. “Because of that accounting decision, private school funding increased by at least $5 million this year.”

He noted that the power to manipulate the calculation rests with the Ministry of Education and they chose to direct more public money to private schools—regardless of any enrolment changes.

“That means the gains we made through collective bargaining, taking strike action, and sacrificing salary were simply handed to the independent school system, including the exclusive private schools that serve BC’s wealthy elites,” said Iker.

Last September, Education Minister Peter Fassbender promised to fully fund the labour settlement costs, but the provincial budget released last week contained the unwelcome news that school boards are required to cut $29 million this year and another $25 million next year. 

“I think BC teachers, parents, and average taxpayers will be upset to see gains from our hard-fought struggle to improve public education used to boost funding for private schools. The Minister of Education should immediately reverse this decision and direct that funding back to BC’s public schools,” Iker said.

Depending on the type of private school, public funding is set at 50% or 35% of the amount allocated to public schools in the same district. Independent school funding in BC has increased more than 60% in the last decade, compared to less than 20% for public schools. 

For much more information on independent school funding, read this new report  from the BCTF Research Department. Ministry budget projections for the next three years show further major gains for private schools. Learn more about that here

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).

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