Anyone questioning the sincerity of Christy Clark’s families first agenda need only look at the province’s latest demand on B.C.’s school districts.
B.C. Education Minister Don McRae has asked school boards across the province to submit saving plans by mid-January detailing how they will cut 1.5 per cent from their budgets to cover the cost of wage increases. This includes their 2012-13 budgets, passed earlier this year. Furthermore, the cuts cannot negatively impact programming for students. Not surprisingly, school boards are displeased. For SD#83, this amounts to $600,000 this year alone, and is expected to double in the coming year.
“We have closed schools, cut staff, re-done our transportation system — we run a pretty tight ship. There’s really nowhere to turn without cutting programs, and that means taking away services from kids,” responded SD #83 board chair Bobbi Johnson.
The reaction is warranted. One of the ugliest battles faced by the province annually is that between teachers and government over wage increases. What better way to circumvent this – before the looming May provincial election – than shifting the burden to school districts? In doing so, the B.C. Liberal government comes out smelling like a rose, right?
It smells pretty rotten from here.