The BC Teachers’ Federation is in full support of the Cowichan School District trustees’ courageous decision to pass a budget which reflects the actual needs in their school community, rather than budgeting for deeper cuts and greater loss of services.
“We are really cheering on these trustees who have taken such a strong stand on behalf of public education and the students and teachers of their community. With their actions, they are saying it’s time to end the decade of cuts in our schools and we couldn’t agree more,” said BCTF President Susan Lambert.
On May 16, 2012, the Cowichan Valley School Board voted 5–4 to submit a “restoration budget” to the Ministry of Education rather than make the cuts required to balance the budget. Instead, the majority voted to restore programs and services students need and parents expect, including teacher-librarians, counsellors, learning assistance teachers, custodians, and five additional days to the school calendar.
The vote came after more than a decade of work by a community coalition to reverse the $10.8 million cuts to programs and services, including the closure of many Cowichan schools. In voting for a deficit, the trustees put their jobs on the line because the School Act requires boards to pass balanced budgets.
Lambert applauded their move saying: “It is such a fallacy in a province as wealthy as British Columbia to say that public education is too costly. If we cannot afford to educate our children, what society can?” she asked. “It’s all a question of spending priorities and clearly the Cowichan Valley trustees have their priorities in order.”
The BCTF is calling on its members to write letters of support to the Cowichan trustees, and to contact their MLAs and Education Minister George Abbott, who has clearly stated that he will fire the Cowichan trustees if they don’t balance their budget.