EDITORIAL: Fassbender’s flub

Did the B.C. Minister of Education really say this? Really?

Every once in a while, a politician spouts a beauty quote that is hard for us wags to ignore.

They are human, of course, and they are players in a very competitive game. Players who have a microphone and notebook in front of them more than almost anyone else too, it should be noted.

That all stated, B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender needs to shake his head.

School board trustees around the province are now in full scramble mode trying to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars each to cover the costs of the 3.5 per cent raise CUPE employees just earned in their negotiations with the provincial government.

Here in Parksville Qualicum Beach, our school trustees are already trying to figure out how to deal with a $1.3 million deficit for this year. Now they need to add more than $200,000 to the red ink because of the CUPE deal.

Fassbender says school boards protesting this extra cost should have known it was coming. He also said he believes some school boards wanted to wait and hope the NDP was going to win the May 14 provincial election.

Huh?

We believe it’s fair to assume an NDP government would have settled a deal with their union friends in CUPE for at least the same amount the Liberals managed. Is Fassbender suggesting an NDP government would have found some other pot of funding to cover the increased costs to local districts? Is he also saying that’s what local school boards were banking on?

Perhaps Fassbender is smarter than we give him credit for. Maybe he purposely offered the slight against the school boards and raised the May 14 election as a way to deflect people from the real issue: the flawed funding formula for K-12 education.

Remember, entire school boards, the people you elected, can be fired if they don’t submit a balanced budget. It’s happened in the past, right here on the Island (Cowichan, 2012).

Our local school board is heading in that direction too. Perhaps it is buying some time with some open-house info sessions, but we hope they can come up with $1.5 million dollars in savings before the minister feels he has to step in and remove duly-elected local officials.

— Editorial by John Harding

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