The Southeast Kootenay board of education is urging the province to fund education priorities as identified by a government committee during budget consultations.
The committee — the Legislative Assembly’s Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services (SSCFGS) — recently stopped in Cranbrook during a province-wide tour to gather feedback on B.C. budget priorities.
Previous SSCFGS reports recommended government provide stable, predictable and adequate funding, including capital funding, for Grades K – 12.
SD5 Trustee Chris Johns presented to the Committee on behalf of the school district, with fellow trustees Trina Ayling, Gail Brown and Patricia Whalen, along with Superintendent Lynn Hauptman, Secretary-Treasurer Rob Norum, and Debbie Therrien, the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), who were all in attendance.
“Our Board feels the Select Standing Committee does valuable work and that their previous reports have accurately reflected the needs of K – 12 public education and its level of public priority,” Johns said. “This is why, despite the lack of meaningful government action on these recommendations, our Board continues to provide feedback to this Committee.”
Johns’ presentation included a review of SD5’s 2015 submission to the SSCFGS and various related correspondence of the past year and he indicated the Board was in unanimous agreement with all 25 recommendations made by the SSCFGS regarding K -12 education, as outlined in the Committee’s 2014, 2015 & 2016 reports.
This year’s SD5 recommendations to the SSCFGS focus on the need for capital funding, along with the continued need to replace Mount Baker Secondary School as a Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
Other issues included the continued downloading of inflationary and mandated costs to districts by government and addressing how special education needs are identified and funded.
Since October 2014, the SD5 board has sent four letters to various members within the provincial government, including the Education Minister and the Premier, requesting further info on those issues.
“When I told the committee our Board has yet to receive even a cursory response to our inquiries — from any of the letter recipients— Select Standing Committee Chair, Wm. Scott Hamilton, said he would contact Victoria regarding this issue that same day; and he did, immediately following our presentation,” John said.