The three-year plan in the 2009–10 Operating Grants Estimates manual reveals the ministry’s plan to freeze operating grants in 2010–11 and 2011–12. This means none of the minimal funding increases planned for education programs in these years will go to K–12 operating grants.
Ministry of Education figures show the percent change in operating grants since 2006–07 is decreasing steadily to zero by 2010–11. This will leave districts with no additional funds to cover cost pressures such as inflation, negotiated salary increases, and other downloaded costs. With no increase in the district operating grants, many boards of education will face severe shortfalls.
Over half of BC school districts, mostly in rural areas, will receive no increase to their 2009–10 operating grants. Many of these districts faced budget challenges or shortfalls in 2008–09 due to inadequate funding.
This leaves public education in a precarious financial position.
The enrolment decline in recent years provided an opportunity for the government to address unmet needs in the education system. For example, they could have met the legislated limits for class size and composition, and met more fully the requirements of students with special needs. Instead, funding increases over the past decade barely kept pace with inflation and nothing has been done to improve teaching and learning conditions.
When will they learn? May 12