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Provincial cuts made without consultation, says board chair

B.C. cuts more than $50M from school administrative services
Squamish Sea to Sky school board chair, Rick Price

School board Chair Rick Price is frustrated with recent education funding cuts in the provincial budget.

The February provincial budget directed B.C’s 60 school districts to cut $29 million this year and another $25 million next year from “administrative services” in their budgets. Price, chair of School District 48’s board of education, expressed his frustration at a recent school board meeting.

“Targeting [administrative services] at all would seem to suggest that the ministry believes that they can do local resource allocation more effectively than we can and to me that was a rather disturbing thought,” said Price, “because if school districts can’t be trusted to allocate the resources they have most effectively to support their students, then really it calls into question the whole structure of the governance of public education and the need for school districts.”

He said the exact impact of the budget cuts is unclear. Price, the former principal at Myrtle Philip Community School in Whistler and Stawamus Elementary in Squamish, said there had been no consultation with the board prior to the cuts being announced.

“Although the [education] minister has signed a protocol agreement on co-governance, this has been imposed upon school districts with no prior consultation whatsoever,” Price said.

B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender and representatives from the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA) signed a memorandum of understanding to work together and respect each other’s jurisdictions in December 2014.

“There should be no surprise that we are looking for efficiencies across the system,” Fassbender told reporters at a recent press conference. “We’ve been working with school district administration over the last couple of years to talk about that. I don’t think it should have been a surprise; it shouldn’t have been, especially to their administration.”

The B.C. government has an $879 million budget surplus that Finance Minister Mike de Jong has said will be used to cut the provincial debt.

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