During the 2009 British Columbia Election campaign, the BC Liberals repeatedly said that despite the hard economic times, they would protect education while in Government.
After getting out of yesterday’s School District #57 (Prince George) special meeting, there is only one thing I can say:
The BC Liberals lied.
At the special meeting, School District #57 administrators presented a “District Sustainably Committee” report, which recommended that the district:
- Close down 12 of 47 schools and re-purpose 2 schools to teach different groups of students. To top it off, some of these schools slated to close down are rural elementary schools; therefore elementary students will have to be bused into Prince George;
- Increase class sizes;
- “Cut district infrastructure” (a.k.a., for the most part, laying off staff).
None of these steps are very conducive to protecting education; however all this is to save $7 million in order to be able to deliver a balanced budget in the 2010-11 school year.
Why does the school district all of a sudden have to save $7 million? Because the BC Liberal government choose to pile more obligations to school boards, such as all-day kindergarten, carbon reduction requirements, and higher MSP Premiums without giving school boards the extra money to pay for them. Because the BC Liberal government choose to take away the Annual Facility Grant used to maintain school buildings. Well, I suppose at least the BC Liberals choose to give school boards a rebate on the HST.
Remember too that this is coming from a school board that had to shut down 14 schools in 2002, during the early Campbell BC Liberal government. Oh, and to make things even worse, the report suggests that School District #57 will have to cut a further $4 million in the future.
So what does this have to do with somebody that is not living in School District #57? Simple. A lot of other BC school boards are facing the same fiscal pressures as School District #57, and might have to take similar action. Heck, it’s already happening in Vancouver.
Of course, the BC Liberals still have time to protect education. They still have time to amend this year’s budget take responsibility for the extra costs that they have added to school boards. They still have time to prove that they didn’t lie during the election.