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Minister of Education Margaret MacDiarmid’s latest announcement about school board budgets for the 2010–11 school year is a blatant attempt to mislead British Columbians, said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger.

“Shell game, smoke and mirrors, and bad political spin are the words that come to mind when looking at the latest funding announcement for school boards,” said Irene Lanzinger. “The new funding promised in the latest budget is only real on paper. The majority of school boards will see no real increase. In many cases, the promised funding for full-day Kindergarten and wage increases will actually make shortfalls worse.”

On March 2, 2010, the government’s budget promised $112 million in new funding for the 2010–11 school year. Within that, $54 million will cover salary increases and $58 million is targeted funding for the implementation of full-day Kindergarten. However, 33 of 60 school boards will receive the exact same funding as they did last year. Those districts include Saanich, Prince George, New Westminster, and Kamloops. They will be expected to pay for full-day Kindergarten and salary increases, but in reality, will have no new funding to do it. Vancouver, a district facing a massive shortfall already, will only receive an extra $500,000.

“The minister’s math just doesn’t add up,” said Lanzinger. “There are unavoidable fixed costs for school boards that the government is not funding. And, by downloading new costs like full-day Kindergarten and salary increases, the government is actually forcing boards to make cuts. The minister of education is making it worse by misleading British Columbians about the real numbers.”

To explain the misleading math, Lanzinger suggests looking at Prince George where parents, teachers, and students are facing several school closures. Last year’s grant from the provincial government was $119.3 million. In 2010–11, the grant will be the same $119.3 million. However, the government says Prince George is getting “new funding” of $1.3 million for salary increases and $1.7 million for full-day Kindergarten.

“The minister needs to explain how $3 million in new funding equals the same funding as the year before,” said Lanzinger. “It is just one more bizarre move by the minister of education and the Gordon Campbell government that will actually lead to cuts, closures, and layoffs. Blaming declining enrolment, which is no longer a problem in many districts, is just a red herring designed to divert the public’s attention from underfunding.”

To view district by district grant allocations, go to:
http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/news/docs/2010/fs_PreliminaryOperatingGrants_100315.pdf

To view full-day Kindergarten and salary increase breakdowns go to:
http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/news/docs/2010/fs_LabourSettlementsFDK_100315.pdf

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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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