May 09, 2015 - 10:31 AM
KAMLOOPS – The Kamloops-Thompson School Board meets Monday to vote on the district's job slashing budget and the teachers' union will be there to argue against the cuts.
The local Teachers' Association will present a report from its provincial body in an effort to prevent the board's plan to layoff 17 teachers and three educational assistants in order to deal with a $3-million funding shortfall and balance the books for the coming school year.
The B.C. Teachers' Federation report paints a grim picture of the state of eduction in the province. It says operating grants have not been used to cover the rising cost of education and have remained frozen instead. The document explains because of the rising cost of hydro, pension and savings plans investments and inflation, funding does not remain the same; it actually declines.
The school board is mandated by legislation to produce a balanced budget, and if the funding they receive from the province isn’t enought to cover education costs, it creates a budget shorfall. Unless districts have funds available in their reserves, this leads to cuts to programs and teaching staff.
The teachers' union wants the board to use its $7.4-million reserve to offset any proposed layoffs.
The Teachers' Federation report says in 2014, 22 school districts estimated a funding shortfall totalling $73-million. The budget shorfalls meant reduced programming, fewer learning resources like textbooks and supplies, and reduced building maintenance. It also mentions some B.C. school districts started charging students for things like band class or the use of the school bus. After cuts to programs like alternate education and adult education, cuts to teaching staff begin, the report says.
The report concludes by stating B.C. is falling behind the rest of the Canada in funding for public schools. School board operating expenditures averaged 8.4 percent between 2001 and 2006 in B.C, compared to 21.4 per cent nationally.
The school board meets Monday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at School District 73 main office at 1383 9th Ave.
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— This story was updated at 9:58 a.m., May 11, to correct a date.
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