Minister of Education Margaret MacDiarmid’s latest announcement about combining school district payroll systems is an attempt to divert attention from their chronic underfunding of public education, said BCTF President Irene Lanzinger.
“Schools need more money now. The minister’s press release states there might be a maximum savings of one or two million dollars. But this would not happen until at least two to three years down the road. Vancouver, alone, needs $16 million, just to maintain existing programs and staff for the next school year.”
The proposal for a centralized provincial payroll, substitute teacher dispatch, accounts payable and receivable, vacation scheduling, and financial reporting would replace the various systems developed in the 60 school districts. Districts vary in size from under 100 to over 6,000 employees. Teacher and support staff contract provisions and procedures also vary widely.
“The minister is clearly feeling the heat from parents, teachers, trustees, and communities who are demanding that she stop the cuts. The government found $500 million for a new roof for BC Place, but they refuse to protect our public education system from devastating cuts.”
Lanzinger also expressed concern that centralization schemes further erode local community control and autonomy and weaken school boards.