The latest BC Liberal budget, delivered one week before students head back to school, will not protect public education and will lead to more cuts in our classrooms, BC Teachers’ Federation Vice-President Susan Lambert said today.
“Once again, this government has brought forward a budget that will see school boards pressured to make dramatic cuts to BC’s kids,” said Lambert. “School boards will be forced to pay for an increase in Medical Service Plan rates, the first since 2002, without receiving any extra funding to cover the costs. That will have a direct impact on classrooms.”
As students get ready to head back to the classroom, school boards are already reeling from a $110 million cut to the Annual Facilities Grant. Over the summer, school boards planned and in most cases paid for important school repairs and upgrades. Last week, the minister of education abruptly announced that grant would no longer be funded, sending many district budgets into disarray.
“The government’s promise to implement all-day Kindergarten is also raising big red flags,” said Lambert. “There’s no new funding this year to start planning, developing curriculum, or securing space. We could be looking at another broken promise and more disappointment a year from now.
“This budget doesn’t even meet the needs of students today, let alone a year from now. There is no new funding to reduce class sizes or improve support for students with special needs. We already know that there will be 500–600 fewer teachers when classes resume next week. This budget will only make things worse for BC’s kids.”
In addition to the $110 million cut to the Annual Facilities Grant, school boards were told last spring to cut $12 million in their administration costs. The government also cut the operating funding for BC School Sports, an organization that runs extra-curricular athletic programs across the province.