May 27, 2010

Shared services review: Adequate funding, real partnerships needed in public education

BURNABY-The BC government announcement that four school districts will participate in a pilot project on shared services appears to be yet another edict from on high to avoid working with education stakeholders and deal with the realities of a seriously underfunded public education system.

“As far as we can tell, government rushed this announcement, without meaningful discussion with local education partners, including elected trustees,” says CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock.

Hancock notes that the announcement comes in the midst of difficult discussions about budgets within the four school districts that have been ‘selected’ to participate in the shared services experiments. “The fact is more money is needed to fund public education. And the Minister of Education needs to reach out to trustees instead of issuing directives from Victoria.”

Questioning how the proposed shared payroll and business administration systems review will unfold, Hancock asks, “Is there real evidence that funds will be saved and a true commitment that any savings will be redirected into education services and programs? We know that these kinds of changes can cause chaos and stress in organizations, and are concerned that members’ jobs will be affected.”

“It will be very important for the voices and experience of CUPE members who currently provide these services to be part of the due diligence and any of the next steps in this process. If government wants any service change to really work, everyone needs to be at the table. “

Hancock says that CUPE BC is very concerned that this could be a step towards privatizing some services. “We know that privatizing does not save money. It simply creates instability for the public, while lining the pockets of private investors.”

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