By Jeff King -The school board is calling on the minister of education to launch a full inquiry into funding levels for isolated, rural school districts, saying present funding is not adequate to meet the needs of students here on the islands.
The board has written to minister Tom Christenson outlining reductions it has had to make this
year alone. They include, it says, cuts of $700,000 on teachers, $35,000 on special ed assistants, $65,000 on computer technicians and $24,000 on busing. The board also noted some other costs it must pay are increasing but not covered by Victoria, including a 2.5-percent teacher’s wage increase, heating and utility costs up some $60,000 and transportation costs now under-funded by $57,000 a year.
“These cuts will directly affect our students. The board wants the minister to be aware that this under-funding will severely impact our ability to provide the academic achievement of our students,” the letter dated June 22 and signed by board chair Andreas Uttendorfer says. It adds that the district will be unable to offer extra support to sports, outdoor education, arts, culture and music, which it calls” vitally important to the overall development of well-rounded students, especially in an isolated area that has very limited resources or opportunities for children”.
The letter also notes more than half the students in the district are First Nations, and that the ministry has indicated a commitment to First Nations students. “Â…this should be a full commitment,” it says.
It’s not the first letter complaining about funding this board has written to Victoria. Last spring it wrote to then-education minister Christy Clark; she never bothered to reply.
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