Vision of education needed: QCDTA

  • Apr. 7, 2003 7:00 a.m.

School trustees need to turn their eyes away from the bottom line and focus on a vision of classroom excellence as they prepare this year’s budget, says the president of the local branch of the teachers’ union.
“We need to start with a vision of education,” Duncan White told trustees at their meeting March 25. “If you start with the bottom line, you end up with a model based on economics.”
Provincial government cutbacks mean the local school district must chop spending by $218,000 in the coming year. It’s the second year of government-imposed restraint; last year the board chopped almost $400,000 from its budget.
“We are not dealing with a system redolent in fat,” Mr. White said. “Any additional cuts to the system will go directly to the bone and directly affect our classrooms. There’s nowhere else to go.”
Mr. White praised the previous school board for maintaining class sizes at their previous levels this year in spite of the cuts. However, he said, teachers and students have noticed the cutbacks, especially in janitorial and maintenance time.
“I have never received, in any other year, the number of complaints about maintenance,” he said. “I think it’s because the maintenance department is taking a hit in the budget.”
The school board has several options, he said, including making a public statement that it cannot meet requirements because it doesn’t have enough money, or refusing to cut the required amount and instead submitting a “student needs” budget to the province.
Mr. White also suggested that trustees could request the resignation of Minister of Education Christy Clark of not providing adequate funding.
Trustees did not do that, but chair Andreas Uttendorfer thanked Mr. White for his presentation and said they will take his recommendations into consideration as they prepare the budget. The budget is scheduled to be voted on at the April 22 school board meeting.