To the editor:
Re: “School board hears public pleas,” April 18.
I attended two of the public consultation meetings held by the Vancouver School Board last week, listening pleas from the public. Pleas to keep the Band and Strings program accessable. Pleas to keep an athletic coordinator. Pleas not to cut services in schools: for immigrants, children with special learning needs, cafeteria services (particularly where there are large numbers of hungry children depending upon those cafeteria’s to have a meal). Cuts, cuts and more cuts. Every year less and less funding available to maintain public education that is excellent, inclusive, meets the learning environment necessary for all students to have a successful outcome and supports the communities striving to insure that success. Less and less funding to build and maintain facilities that are safe and welcoming.
Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender assure us that education funding has hit the wall. For the next three years (at least) public institutions that could provide the bright lights that will see us out of the the current crisises we have with the evironment, senior care, affordable housing, public transportation, widening income disparities, poverty and health care will receive no increase in funding.
Clark and Fassbender assure us that they cannot unwisely use any more taxpayer dollars to support public education. That school districts only need to prioritize spending and find those economies needed to balance the budget that is allotted to them.
Perhaps priority spending and the finding of economy might be undertaken by government. There is a cost of not supporting the public institution best placed to produce a citizenry that is well educated, socially adept and healthy both physically and emotionally. This cost is greater by far than the savings achieved by steadily undermining it.
With the release this week of the Revised Preliminary Budget for the VSB came the news that there is an extra $690,000, which will be used to offset some of the cuts proposed originally to balance a budget projected to be $11.65 million short. A small drop in a large bucket.
These funds may have been released by the province because of the advocacy by thousands of parents, students and community members.
How is it proposed to spend the “extra” funds? There is no proposal at this time. The board has decided to make that decision after the full consultation on the budget is completed with more public input April 28.
So keep pleading.
Premier Clark: ARE YOU LISTENING??