On February 19, 2016, PAN and FACE issued a press release in response to BC Budget 2016, which was announced on February 16, 2016. The text follows; a link to the press release is at the end of this post.
VANCOUVER — To the great disappointment of the Parent Advocacy Network (PAN) and Families Against Cuts to Education (FACE), and to the detriment of our children’s education, the BC government again cut education funding in Budget 2016. A further $25 million in “administrative” cuts will be taken from public education this year. By contrast, private school funding is increasing by $48 million, for a total of $358 million in tax dollars going to private schools.
“Last year’s round of ‘administrative’ cuts saw Boards cutting crucial items like school buses, custodial services, and even Education Assistant hours, so these cuts directly affect our children,” said Jennifer Stewart, parent and co-founder of FACE. “There is nothing left to cut and we are hearing more and more frequently about Boards closing entire schools in order to achieve ‘administrative’ savings.”
The government says that it is committing more funding than ever to education; what the government doesn’t say is that the increase is only enough to cover negotiated wage increases, and does not even match the rate of inflation, let alone cover rising costs. This is an effective hidden cut to the operating budget, in addition to the outright ‘administrative’ cuts.
“The Budget demonstrates that public education and our children are not a priority for government,” said Andrea Sinclair, parent, PAC Chair, and co-founder of PAN. “Prior to BC Budget 2016, we campaigned for the government to listen to the Finance Committee’s recommendations for increased funding for public education. Citizens across BC signed the petition and sent postcards to the government, but they were ignored.”
“It is shocking that the government has money for a ‘Prosperity Fund’ when many vulnerable children come to school hungry and school boards are struggling to provide breakfast and lunch programs,” said parent and PAN co-founder Maggie Milne Martens.
Jennifer Stewart says that FACE and PAN will continue to advocate for adequate public education funding: “Education is a promise we make to our children, an investment in the future of our province, and a societal good that benefits all. When we fail to fund it adequately, we are failing our future.”