Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More downloading of costs to school districts - is anyone surprised?

After budgets are set, the government announces a new cost to school districts - property insurance. "Due to ministry funding pressures it will no longer be possible to cover premiums for loss replacement," says the Ministry.

The Vancouver School Board has rightly protested this cut and it looks like the Ministry, under pressure, might come up with part of the additional funding.

But is anyone really surprised? This has been the standard operating method of the Liberal government since they were first elected in 2001.

When the NDP negotiated class size limits in 1998, the explicitly attached a funding increase to Boards to ensure that they would have the funding to meet the added expense. But when the Liberals legislated a collective agreement in 2002, they didn't fund the salary increase. This led to a rash of school closures during the following several years. Boards simply did not have the funds to cover their operating costs. Closing schools and selling or leasing school properties was used to make up the difference.

Add to this, downloading of:

* increased pension payments
* carbon offsets
* carbon emission reporting
* MSP premiums
* facilities grants cuts
* unfunded hydro increases

The Liberals claim to promote "flexibility" and "choice", yet their funding decisions have only led to less flexibility and less choice. Without proper funding, there are fewer schools (hundreds closed across BC in the last decade), fewer programs, and fewer elective courses being offered. Perhaps the only real increase in programming has been in the area of "academies", where parents must pay a fee in order to attend (some fees are as much as $1000).

How is this "putting families first"?

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