School trustees are facing difficult decisions this month as they try to balance next year’s budgets.
Vancouver district, for example, is wrestling with a $12.34-million shortfall and has proposed wide-ranging cuts, from the elimination of the band and strings program and the closing of 28 classrooms to a freeze on out-of-district travel and withdrawal from the B.C. School Trustees’ Association (BCSTA).
Education funding will undoubtedly be an issue when trustees gather April 24-27 in Vancouver for the BCSTA annual general meeting. It will also be on the table when parents meet May 31 – June 1 for the BCCPAC annual general meeting.
During that latter meeting, the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) will ask BCCPAC to press for changes in the government’s funding formula to ensure that student services and classroom supports are protected.
In a resolution, VCPAC describes the current funding model – which sees most money disbursed according to a per-pupil formula, with additional dollars provided for certain groups of special-needs students – as discriminatory.
“Belonging in a classroom is an individual right and should be supported unconditionally,” it says in a statement supporting the resolution. “The moment we fail to develop our classrooms based on the needs and rights of each student, we are failing to meet their needs and we are violating their rights.”
The provincial government should provide additional and separate funding to schools “to ensure that their classrooms are able to deliver the required services to all students,” it says.
Find the precise wording of the resolution, and offer your views, here.
In another resolution, Victoria parents urge BCCPAC to clarify the difference between “working conditions” and “learning conditions” and then insist on being consulted by the Education Ministry when it deals with issues related to learning conditions.
The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has taken the position that teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. But VCPAC disagrees.
The number of students in a class is a working condition, it says, but the resources required to ensure every child’s educational success is a learning condition. “Employees have the right to negotiate their working conditions. Parents have the right to be involved in decisions that relate to our children’s learning conditions,” the resolution says.