In your opinion what is the most critical issue facing the school board at this time and how do you plan on addressing it?
What is clear to me from the recent teachers’ strike is that public education funding in B.C. is amongst the lowest in Canada. The next provincial budget is projected to continue the trend of underfunding, downloading still more costs onto school boards already being crushed by the accumulating impact of more than a decade of underfunding. That will mean larger class sizes, fewer resources, more cuts to maintenance, and more pressure to close schools. It will mean even less help for our most vulnerable students and those who need it most.
What can be done? An entire generation of students have already gone from kindergarten to graduation, impacted by endless cutbacks. Solutions cannot wait for the next election, the next round of bargaining, or some Court decision years away. Trustees need to be educational advocates throughout the province, standing up for public education, demanding that the provincial government treat public education as a vital component of a prosperous and cohesive society—not as a burden upon taxpayers.
It is time for new ideas, new strategies, and especially for trustees who will put the needs and the interests of public education ahead of partisan politics! When the next round of budget cuts comes, we need school trustees to say that it’s no longer good enough to work hard to minimize the damage. Our students, and our hard-working teachers and educational staff, deserve better. They need trustees who will liaise with all educational partner groups, local organizations and the community to ensure that politicians’ understand the need to end the years of underfunding and to make quality public education the highest priority. The time has come to speak out for public education and to reject the strategy of endless compliance budgets … public education is far too important to be so undervalued.