REALITY CHECK – Education Pays the Price for Campbell’s Broken Promises

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During the election Gordon Campbell promised he would protect K-12 education from cutbacks.
But now the campaign is over, and school districts are being forced to close schools, cut staff and services, and impose new fees. Last night in Kamloops the school board met to arrange for consultation on major cuts coming down in the budget.
Here are some examples of how the Kamloops school district and other districts across the province are grappling with severe underfunding:
 *   School District 73 (Kamloops) — short more than $4 million. The board is considering closing up to 11 elementary schools and restructuring its high schools in a bid to save the district $3 million per year. They have also discussed charging as much as $200 per student per year to ride the school bus. (School District 73 draft budget for 2009-2010, Kamloops Daily News, July 6, 2009 and Kamloops Daily News, April 10, 2009)
 *   School District 23 (Kelowna) — short more than $3 million. The school board is eliminating substitute teachers for librarians, career prep and support teachers, scaling back the district technology department, and making a one-per-cent funding cut for every major department. They are also charging families as much as $200 per student per year to ride the school bus. (Kelowna Capital News, April 23, 2009)
 *   School District 36 (Surrey) — short more than $9.5 million. In addition to spending their reserves to make it through the school year they have put a hold on replacing teachers and administrators that retire or leave the district. They are also planning to cut the number of instructional days in the school year by six. (Connections 2009/2010 Budget Briefing, Surrey Now, April 21, 2009)
 *   School District 33 (Chilliwack) — short $4 million. The school board is planning to cut 13 teachers and 14 educational assistants this year, while also charging families as much as $200 per student per year to take certain school bus routes. (Chilliwack Progress, April 13 2009, User-pay information, )
 *   School District 63 (Saanich) — short more than 3.6 million. School District 63 is eliminating crossing guards, closing the district resource centre, cutting the number of teachers and support staff, getting rid of the district music teacher, reducing the number of education assistants by 2.5 per cent, cutting early learning coordination, support and initiatives by $75, 000 and eliminating all programs for gifted students. They have also raised school bus fees to $20 per month per student. (School District 63 2009/2010 Budget Challenge, School District 63 Approved Budget Reductions)
 *   School District 83 (Salmon Arm) — short $950 000. They are cutting special education staff and introducing an adjusted bell schedule that has elementary schools starting as early as 7:45 a.m. and secondary schools starting as late as 9:20 a.m. (Sicamous Eagle Valley News, May 19, 2009, and Salmon Arm Observer, April 21, 2009