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Legislative committee seeking ideas for next B.C. budgetSeptember 24, 2014

Author: Webmaster

Two items that may be of interest:

An all-party legislative committee on finance and government services is seeking public input this month and next on how the provincial government should spend money in its 2015 budget. British Columbians are invited to attend the public hearings, submit written proposals or complete an online survey. Information can be found here.

The committee has already conducted a half dozen public meetings, which included presentations by Vancouver, Prince George and Peace River North school boards.

They appealed for stable and adequate funding for public schools, more dollars for special-needs education, more capital funding to upgrade/expand facilities and new efforts to eliminate child poverty.

Vancouver’s concerns about facilities are primarily focused on the need for seismic upgrades. Prince George, meanwhile, is worried about its aging schools. Trustee Tim Bennett said 71 per cent of schools in that district are rated by the Education Ministry as being in poor condition.

In the fast-growing area around Fort St. John, there is a need for new school construction. “We’re full,” board chairman Jaret Thompson told the committee. “We’re stripping out libraries to create classrooms, computer labs to create classrooms. We’re doing everything we can in those schools out of our operational budget, and no capital dollars are coming forth. We’re stretched to the limit at this point and are looking for your help.”

Many of those same issues were presented to government as recommendations after the committee’s last round of public consultations.

Twitter was chirping last night after the release of a government document indicating that a company called Hadrian Educational Consulting Ltd. was likely to be awarded a contract in the K-12 sector without tender. According to the document, the company will provide strategic advice in relation to:

– Creating a new co-governance model for B.C.’s Public Education sector that sustains learning transformation and the move towards shared services, responds to recommendations in the April 2013 BC Auditor General’s report on School District Board Governance and increases the effectiveness of public school sector governance, operations and delivery of services.

– The best approaches and options for implementing shared services business models and structures to support the operation of 60 school districts in B.C.

– School district accountability frameworks for student achievement and the K-12 funding formula.

The contract is worth a maximum of $48,000.

There were tweets from teachers, parents and trustees asking questions about the company because Google searches were producing zip. But this morning, Kelly Slade-Kerr posted information from BC Online, confirming what many had suspected.

The company is owned by former Surrey superintendent Mike McKay, and the contract represents an extension of work he was hired to do earlier this year. McKay retired as Surrey superintendent in September but remains the official trustee for Cowichan Valley school district until November’s civic election. He’s also project director of the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative and a business partner of former education minister George Abbott.

There’s been much speculation but no official word yet on how his assignment might affect K-12 education. Read more about this issue here.

I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and do not speak for the organization.

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