The budget tabled today by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon signals the beginning of a second decade of deep cuts in BC schools. With funding to school districts virtually frozen at $4.7 billion annually through to 2014–15, inflation and increasing downloaded costs will continue to place significant pressures on school boards.
“This means $100 million in cuts to public schools next year alone,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert. She noted that $130 million would be needed just to keep up with inflation. The $30 million in the so-called Learning Improvement Fund to deal with class composition is completely inadequate to meet the real needs.
“The LIF amounts to mere pennies per day per child,” Lambert said. “This is a massive theft of educational opportunities from the next generation of BC kids.”
She noted that BC schools have already endured a decade of cuts. “That means a whole generation of students have grown up going to school in larger classes without adequate support and a lack of specialist teachers to meet diverse needs,” she said. “Now we’re looking at another three years of ongoing cuts and increasing demands on teachers to fill the gaps and meet students’ needs.”
“Sadly, this government is putting BC in a race to the bottom,” Lambert said, pointing to Mind the Gap, a recent study by BC Stats which highlights growing income inequity and ranks Canada among the worst of the OECD countries, with BC having the highest income inequity of all provinces. In addition, BC continues to have the highest child poverty rate in Canada.
“These statistics provide strong evidence of this government’s disregard for the poorest and most vulnerable children and families in BC, despite all the family-friendly rhetoric,” said Lambert.