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April 22, 2010

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CUPE demands action on education funding

VANCOUVER—CUPE BC’s annual convention is calling on the provincial government to convene an emergency summit on the crisis in public education funding.

CUPE BC will also commission an independent assessment of the BC government’s claim of the ‘highest funding ever’ for K-12 education in the wake of massive service and program cuts, school closures and job loss in school districts throughout the province.

In an emergency resolution to be debated this afternoon, CUPE BC calls for support for elected trustees and boards of education who are advocating for fair funding, including the Vancouver Board of Education, which has been subjected to arbitrary and intimidating actions by the BC government.

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill said that there is a serious lack of transparency about public school enrolment and funding and a real concern that government is becoming more confrontational with boards of education.

“The BC Education Minister and government MLAs’ response to concerns from elected school trustees, staff and parents throughout the province has been to state that government is providing the ‘highest funding ever.’ Well, that’s ringing pretty hollow as districts face historic cuts in services and staff,” said O’Neill.

CUPE research has found many inconsistencies in how enrolment is stated and projected, and how funding is allocated and explained and O’Neill says that CUPE is concerned that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors around what districts are really getting to cover their educational costs.

“We are very concerned that government may be significantly overstating the degree of enrolment decline. Is it to justify giving education funding a lower budget priority? Is it to drive down expectations within the school community?” said O’Neill. “Convention delegates – many of whom are parents and grandparents – are clear: it’s high time to get past the myths of an ongoing enrolment crisis and the ‘highest funding ever.’ The students of B.C. deserve no less.”

CUPE BC represents more than 80,000 workers in B.C., including 26,000 school support workers in the public education system.

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