The Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District has been allotted $593,079 as its share of ‘redirected’ funding for ‘administrative savings’ being allocated to school districts by the Ministry of Education.
School District 79, Cowichan Valley, has been allotted $348,411 under the initiative.
That’s their share of $25 million, which the Liberal government is pumping back “into frontline services for students,” says a May 31 MOE release.
But NDP Opposition Leader John Horgan characterizes the announcement as a shell game, that adds nothing to resources being provided to beleaguered schools.
Education Minister Mike Bernier said districts can use the funding any way they see fit – for hiring new teachers, for programs, or for maintaining schools.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that maximum education dollars go into services for students,” Bernier said.
“Districts worked hard to reduce their administrative costs and we are pleased to be able to direct that $25 million back to programs and initiatives that will directly benefit the kids of B.C.”
BC School Trustees Association President Teresa Rezansoff said her organization is “pleased that the Ministry of Education and government have been responsive to our ongoing advocacy.
“We thank them for engaging in open dialogue with us regarding the funding concerns of school districts. Local autonomy to allocate the money based on local priorities is important,” she said.
Horgan said the Liberal government announcement is a mirage, “…no cheques went to local school boards. Instead, the Christy Clark government just cancelled their plan to claw back $25 million from school boards across B.C. this year.”
Slamming the Liberal record in education funding, Horgan cited government actions that have added to the financial pressures on school districts, including:
• Passing along increases to MSP and Hydro rates without compensating funding;
• Failure to fund a $26 million broadband internet upgrade;
• Forcing school districts to cut millions in administrative expenditures.
He accused the Liberal government of letting school districts struggle with the fallout and ‘chaos’ caused by education underfunding.
“Again and again, the education minister tried to pass the buck to school boards, claiming that the decisions they were making were on a ‘local level,’ and nothing to do with his ministry’s failure to appropriately fund schools,” Horgan said.
BC Principals and Vice Principals Association President Kevin Reimer said school districts are relieved to see the funding released, and that the BCPVPA is hopeful it comes as a signal.
“I absolutely think it is news and that it’s good news,” he said. “I hope that we see more of this kind of good news moving forward.”