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Kamloops News

JONESIE: Don't fall for government games on school budgets

June 01, 2016 - 2:57 PM


Do you get the sense yesterday didn’t turn out quite like the B.C. Liberals hoped it would?

It started with some rumblings out of Vancouver that the Liberals were headed out on a roadshow to announce they were giving $25 million to school districts. It smelled like a reaction to public anger about school closures. Dan Ashton, Liberal MLA for Penticton, which includes the South Okanagan, has not one but two schools slated to close in his constituency.

“I am very pleased to deliver more than $266,000 in funding to help the cause,” he said in a release. “It is now time for the school district to respond and reopen at least one of these schools, if not both.”

Nice try, but I don't buy it. It looks like a bunch of smoke and mirrors. The government didn’t give any more money to school districts; they rescinded their own order for more cuts.

That's like hiring an employee, then demanding he pay parking fees, then later removing the demand for parking fees and taking credit for giving him a raise.

Only the 'raise' for schools is one time only. So, more like a bonus.

Now MLAs like Ashton are getting uppity because the employee invested the bonus instead of spending it where he wants them to.

Not surprisingly, few, if any, school districts saw it as the government did. No schools were saved, particularly not in the South Okanagan where they realize that one time only funding isn’t very helpful at all.

The real problem isn’t money anyway, it’s declining student enrolment, but lets not start using facts in a public relations plan — one that failed to save any schools. Or was that really what this was about?

That presumes they actually want to save schools from closing and that may presume too much. The Liberals arguably get more votes by fighting the education system than by pandering to it.

This whole rollout was more likely designed to deflect future criticism. We’re heading for an election next May and the Liberals probably know school closures are on the voter agenda.

All they need is a bad guy to take the blame and the province’s school boards are an easy target.

“We didn’t close schools — we gave more money and the school district STILL decided to close schools," the Liberals can now saw. "Sorry, that’s the way the system works, folks.”

I’m not sure much changes on the face of this but it’s curious: If you’re a big supporter of education, you’re not voting Liberal. But if you are a Liberal supporter you probably support their efforts to curtail government spending.

Seems to me, playing silly games like this that do nothing but divide people can only hurt the governing party. So long as people are aware of the game, that is.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones or call 250-718-2724 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2016

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