As school boards make cuts to implement this budget, parents’ anger will return.
Many parents might drift through the budget announcement hearing little the high-level ‘analysis’ of a ‘balanced budget’ from the media. Day-to-day, they’re just trying to make a living and do their best for their families. Most have other more immediate concerns.
This will change.
Even before yesterday’s release of the BC Government’s budget, BC’s school districts were already beginning to sound the alarm about cuts to public education across the province. And that was while the government’s promise of the Ministry of Education fully funding the collective agreements during the last year still held.
It is true that here is new money included in the budget for classroom education — $127 million this year — but it is a shell game. The budget places increased demands on school districts’ finances to pay for increases such as MSP and BC Hydro rates, as well as to absorb the costs of inflation. In addition, boards must now find $29 million in ‘administrative savings’ in 2015/16. Then there’s the additional $25 million to be cut in 2016/17, and another cut in 2017/18. BC’s 2015 budget promises nothing more than continued underfunding for BC’s public education.
In the next month, when school districts start trying to balance their budgets we will see the cutting of band and choir programs, of sports funding, and of librarians and library time. Once this ‘fat’ is gone, school boards will have no choice but to reach for the bone saw. Already tenuous systems of assessment and learning supports for special needs kids, and help for English language learners will also be on the block.
That’s when you’ll see parents’ anger return.
This spring, and for the next three years, school districts are going to have to make program and service cuts – and they will be deep. Numerous boards had already begun consultations with their communities about how to prioritize their needs and/or proceed with budget cuts. Their jobs are now more difficult and the choices their communities are facing have become starker.
And what are the Choices on the table? It’s a choice of whose kids’ needs are going under the bus first. So what are you going to do about it?
Here are our suggestions:
- Get involved in your school board’s budget consultation process. If there isn’t one, demand it. Start doing it now (As we find links, we’ll post them here).
- Do your best to save services for our neediest kids.
- Demand your school board speak out to government about underfunding.
- Reach out and organize with other parents.
- Share your stories about how school districts’ cuts are impacting your family. Tell other parents, co-workers, friends and family. Post it online. Write it to your newspaper.
- Write your MLA or all the MLAs! It’s easy now with email. (@fixbced has a great letter you can use as a template for your own and their email addresses are all here).
- Together, take your fight to your MLA and demand that they stand up for you, your kids and your community in Victoria.
Parents’ anger will return.
School Board budget consultation processes are now listed in their own post.