COWICHAN— CUPE’s K-12 local in the Cowichan Valley has come out in strong support of fired School District 79 school trustees. The democratically-elected SD 79 Board was fired on Canada Day for submitting a needs-based budget instead of the province’s demand for a “balanced” budget.
“It’s regrettable that the provincial government has chosen to put political advocacy ahead of its obligation to provide the best possible public education for the children of BC,” says CUPE K-12 coordinator Bill Pegler. “The responsible management of finances to support student learning and achievement is a central responsibility of the province.”
CUPE Local 606 President Ron Farino says that “the Board of Education for School District 79 Cowichan Valley is to be commended for its determination to stand-up for the interests of children, their families and public education.
“This Board was elected to restore the damage done by provincial government underfunding - it was mandated by the public to try to restore lost programs, services and staff as part of the effort to rebuild public education in the Cowichan Valley,” says Farino.
The province fired the Cowichan School Board after it voted for a “restoration budget” to address vital school services such as adequate hours of work for education assistants, custodial time, technology courses and bus service. The province has now appointed a special administrator to run the school district and members of the fired board are reportedly studying their legal options.
The Board’s refusal to sanction another deficit budget is an important piece of advocacy on behalf of all British Columbians committed to providing quality public education for our children after a decade of substandard funding, says CUPE. Current levels of funding undermine public schooling and further erode public confidence in the province’s commitment to quality programs and student excellence.
CUPE is calling on the provincial government to step back from its inadequate funding by restoring funding to levels capable of addressing student needs and making our school system the best that it can be. It is also calling for meaningful discussions with school boards instead of firing them.