BC Education Minister George Abbott announced yesterday this year's education funding and a change to the funding formula. The announcement indicates that the change to this year's funding over last year is .06%. With inflation at 3.2%, this represents a three percent funding cut.
This is no surprise. It is business as usual. For pretty much twenty years the budgets for school districts have received slow and steady cuts. In constant dollars, funding in 1991 was almost $9 billion. Today it is under $5 billion. These cuts have led to significant service cuts over these two decades.
The Minister also announced changes to the funding formula. In a "net zero" framework, he acknowledged that the funding changes would bring "some winners" and "some losers". There are increases to communityLink funding (often used for lunch programs in low income neighborhood schools) and increases to rural districts. There will also be budget protection for districts experiencing declining enrollment.
What does this mean? Urban, expanding districts are likely to see budget reductions. Districts like Surrey will continue to house thousands of students in portables. Districts like my own, Victoria, will experience small job losses and program cuts. It will be another year of the slow erosion of public education.
The Minister claims he has consulted with Districts about the need for changes to the funding formula. I wonder what he means by this? What I know is that for years Districts have been upset about unfunded expenses, rising inflation without corresponding rising core funding, lack of stability (one year budgets), and expanded mandates (such as the carbon trust). The funding announcement does nothing to address any of these issues.
Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is not the change we need.
The announcement can be found here: