VANCOUVER – CUPE BC’s provincial executive, which is meeting in Vancouver, applauded the joint work between school trustees, parents, teachers and staff in response to serious government underfunding.
CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill says that there has been an historic response across the province to the Liberal government’s arrogant and short-sighted cost cutting, with many districts sending joint letters to government about funding problems.
“The harmful impact of cuts and downloaded costs on the education of B.C. children is clear to everyone, and the BC Liberals need to listen to the consistent message and commit to proper funding levels,” says O’Neill.
O’Neill says that CUPE and other concerned groups will continue to turn up the heat and let the Campbell government know that it is unacceptable to write off the education of children because you have other funding priorities.
Commenting on the joint statement by New Democrats, concerned parents and education stakeholders in Surrey yesterday, O’Neill says that New Democrat MLA Harry Bains is taking a lead in protecting the future for the children of Surrey-Newton.
Bains was joined by school district trustees Terry Allen, Ljaz Chatha, and Laurie Larsen as well as teacher Laurie Wilson, and parents Diana Douglas and Kashi Sanghera at a press conference held at Fraser Heights Secondary School that highlighted the problems facing Surrey Schools.
Bains noted that the student population of Surrey is increasing and that the marginal increases in funding from per-pupil grants are not enough, especially when combined with the many financial pressures facing districts like the costs of going carbon neutral, increased Medical Services Plan premiums, inflation and the introduction of all-day kindergarten.
O’Neill echoed the concerns of New Democrat education critic Robin Austin that the school funding formula doesn’t work for growing districts like Surrey, and it also doesn’t work for districts that are losing students. “In Surrey, and elsewhere, added pressure comes from the unequal distribution of CommunityLINK funding for vulnerable students, which has hurt districts’ ability to offer access to lunch programs and other services aimed at disadvantaged youth,” says O’Neill.
CommunityLINK (Learning Includes Nutrition and Knowledge) provides funds for services such as breakfast and lunch programs, inner city and community school programs, school-based support workers, and counselling for at-risk children and youth.