Thursday, January 10, 2013

Northern BC school boards push back at Provincial Government

School has been back in session for four days now and while teachers and students knuckle down to the work of a new year, a number of School Boards are getting to work to try and get the attention of the Ministry of Education.

Many will be following up on some correspondences that they made over the Christmas break, outlining their concerns over something called the Cooperative Gains Mandate, an edict from the Ministry of Education, which instructs as to wage increases for a variety of employee groups and the requirements for them on the local level.

But for those School Boards that are pushing back, it's a directive that provides a plan, that in the opinion of those School Boards isn't one that is feasible.

School District 52 offered up their thoughts to the Ministry of Education, providing a letter to Minister Don McRae that outlines their concerns, explaining how they believe that it is not viable to find savings in the middle of a fiscal year and without time to properly consult with their partner groups.

And while SD 52 clearly has had a few issues of their own over the last few years when it comes to expenditures, overall the tone of their letter in this instance at least seems spot on.

The directive and the timing of it, would seem to be providing for a problematic math problem for those that have to balance budgets.

Terrace's Coast Mountain School Board is another one of the Boards of Education, that issued their concerns to Minister McRae, a copy of their letter was provided for the Terrace Standard last month.

CFTK-- Coast Mountain School Board Opposes Education Minister's Budget Request

The School District in Prince George is also addressing the issue, with their own letter of concern to the Minister, much like the Coast Mountain District, the Prince George District believes that the request at this time is "unreasonable and poorly timed", coming as it does barely six months into the current fiscal period.

The Prince George Citizen-- Board balks at school squeeze 
Opinion 250-- SD 57 Trustees Call on Min. of Education to Withdraw Request
CKPG TV-- Trustees Sound Off on Education Ministry Request

And School Boards in the North are not alone in their concern over the change to the financial blue print that the province has requested.

The battle for funding it seems, will be a rather hot issue for the New Year, something that will make the run up for the election in the Spring a bit uncomfortable for Premier Clark and her Education Minister.

Vancouver Sun-- B. C. School Trustees riled by minister's request for savings
Vancouver Sun-- B. C. School Boards asked to find money for employee pay increases
Burnaby now-- Battle Brewing for B. C. Boards

For the most part the Boards of Education believe that the wage increases are warranted, however the financial juggling that will be required by respective School Districts and at such a late date in their budget year, will in their opinion result in reduction of services or passing the costs back onto the public.

Neither of which it seems are topics that the Boards of Education find to be an acceptable path at the moment.

Their concerns, add to yet another troublesome issue for a provincial government that seems to have yet to find its proper balance and at times seems to actively seek controversy, when it comes to public education in the province.

Clearly, hitting up the School Districts with an unexpected financial request and then insisting that they balance their budgets once again, is not resonating well with those on the front line of the administration chain.

And as School District 52 points out rather succinctly in their correspondence, consultation on matters of education and education funding, seems to be an ongoing problem between Ministry and Boards of Education, as in, there doesn't seem to be much of it these days.

Somebody at the Ministry of Education may have to start sharpening their own pencils and make the walk up to the Premiers Office to explain that at the moment, the numbers aren't adding up and for the most part it's not the fault of those that have to distribute the pennies on the local level.

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