by Kyra Hoggan on Wednesday Sep 16 2009
Photo: School district trustee and board vice-chair Bev Maloff
A much-vaulted province-wide injection of $84 million for education won't be the windfall for which School District #20 (SD20) might have hoped, as the district now has to struggle with a $1million cut.
Bev Maloff, trustee and vice-chair of the SD20 board, said the axing of the annual facilities grant is that unhappy combination of too little, and too late.
“We see a little bit (from the $84 million), but for specific things like strong start centres and stuff like that,” she explained. “This is different – this ($ 1-million grant) is our capital funding we get for everything from roof repairs to computers, painting to sidewalk repair.”
“We 're just going to have to stop all repairs at this particular time, so if a roof caves in ... we do not have any funds for any emerging issues.”
To add insult to injury, though, Maloff said most capital projects are undertaken in the summer months, when classes aren't in session – meaning much of the money is already spent.
“On Aug. 27 is when they told us – in July and August is when we do most of this work. Thanks to (the province's timing), we've already spent $392,000 in capital projects, which brings our shortfall this year up to about $930,000.
“If they had told us in May or June, we could have done things differently. This is very poor timing.”
She said there have even been staff brought on to complete the planned projects – so now SD staff will have to meet with the SD director of operations as well as CUPE (union) representatives to discuss whether lay-offs will be necessary.
“Especially with our declining enrollment, they (the province) should be giving us a head's up before they slash our funding,” she added.
She said specific enrollment information will be available at the end of the month, as September often sees a great deal of student movement, especially at the secondary level.
She also encouraged locals, as members of the electorate, to put pen to paper if they find this situation as poorly-handled as she, herself, does.
“It's important that residents of our district write to the premier or the Ministry of Education saying that, as most of our school boards perform the bulk of their capital projects in the summer, when students are not in session, they (residents) support the immediate re-institution of the $1-million facilities grant.”
One can email the premier at email@example.com while the Minister of Education can be reached at Minister.EDUC@gov.bc.ca