At their Annual General Meeting, trustees took strong positions on key education issues. Funding and budgets took top priority. A motion was passed seeking a commitment from the minister of education to review and increase the current education funding formula allocation and correct structural deficits.
“I didn’t think when I got elected I would be slashing the budgets.” Randy Cairns (Mission) He went on to say that when you look at a comparison of constant dollars vs. inflationary costs, “the graph heads straight down.”
“It’s very important at this time for the leadership of this organization to get out in front on this and make some people uncomfortable and find out who really supports public education in this province.” Elsie McMurphy (Saanich)
Other funding issues generated motions to reinstate protection from enrolment decline, fully fund expanded mandates, offset charging of fees, and meet the true costs of transportation.
“We have a binding contract with government, but they are not willing to live up to their obligations.” Victor Tracey (Vancouver Island North)
“I can’t believe some people are saying we should teach students lessons by paying fees? That creates first and second class students.” Stepan Vdovine (Maple Ridge)
Assessment and accountability also took centre stage in the debates. The meeting passed recommendations to work with partner groups to conduct a broad review of all ministry-mandated district performance assessment and accountability measures. Trustees also moved to work with the minister of education and other partner groups to resolve current problems regarding FSA testing and develop a long-term solution.
“We realize the FSA debacle caused an uproar. It’s time for the ministry to take action, and work with partner groups to ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Rolli Cacchioni (Kelowna)
Trustees dealt with a wide range of motions on programs and social issues that impact the work of teachers and the well-being of children. They want to see a comprehensive plan to combat child poverty, an expansion of fully funded full-day Kindergarten, the use of available space for early learning programs, revised and more comprehensive special-needs criteria, and a long-term plan for seismic upgrading.
When will they learn? May 12