Citizens from all over BC used our last “Can you hear us now” email tool to tell the minister of education and their MLAs that they wanted an end to underfunding, starting with the removal of the $25 million administrative cuts in Budget 2016. It’s clear that the government realizes British Columbians are unhappy with the education funding situation: in recent weeks, there have been announcements in which the $25 million was returned to districts, some capital projects have been announced, and special funding has been given to rural schools.
The response to these announcements has been “too little, too late.” Much more funding is needed to meet the costs of public education, and a long-term approach that provides stable, predictable, adequate funding is necessary, rather than the current erratic and unpredictable funding by photo-op, which leads only to more confusion and instability.
Please use the latest version of our quick and easy email tool to write to the government and leaders of the opposition parties, to tell them what you expect your government to do in the long-term interests of public education.
Here is the email text:
Dear Premier Clark and Minister Bernier,
It is clear that you are aware that many citizens of BC are concerned about education funding, as your government has recently rescinded the $25 million of administrative cuts for this year and committed funding to rural schools. These are good first steps, but much more is necessary to repair the damage done by years of underfunding, which has caused deep cuts to programs and services as well as the closure of schools across the province.
For example, the $29 million in administrative cuts that boards had to make in 2015 should also be returned, and boards need enough operating funds to meet their costs, as well as adequate funding to begin to address their massive backlogs of maintenance deferred due to lack of funds. Furthermore, the government must commit the capital resources necessary to address the need for new schools and seismic upgrades, for which too many communities have been waiting far too long.
I want my government to think of education in the long term and as a social good and investment in the future. This means the practice of increasing district costs without correspondingly increasing funding must end; the pattern of making capital available in sporadic, unpredictable, arbitrary amounts for competition must be stopped; and the government must consult with districts about the actual costs of education and give them the stability to make multi-year plans they can rely on.
To this end, I want my government to follow the advice of its own MLAs on the Select Standing Committee on Finance, which recognized that current funding is inadequate to meet the increased costs that boards face. The committee recommended a review of the education funding formula; such a review is necessary to find a replacement for the per-pupil funding model, which fails to address the fixed costs of education and which punishes children who happen to live in districts with declining enrolment.
I urge you to launch an open-minded and impartial review, with the goal of ensuring stable, predictable funding that meets the costs of providing quality public education to our most important resource: our children.
Click here to use our email tool. It only takes a minute to send this important message.