The BC Legislative Assembly’s Select Standing Committee on Finances and Government Services (SSCFGS) visited Kimberley on June 7 and representatives of School District 5 were on hand give them a presentation focused on funding supports.
The SSCFGS were in Kimberley as part of their yearly provincial public consultations, the objective of which is to compile data by way of public feedback for an annual report on regarding the next provincial budget.
Historically, these annual consultation tours take place in autumn, however this is the first year that they shifted the date to June.
Previous SSCFGS reports have, for example, recommended the government provide predictable and adequate funding for the K-12 education sector. This is a priority that has also been continually addressed by the SD5 Board.
SD5 trustee Chris Johns addressed the SSCFGS on behalf of the District. A great deal of his presentation was focused on adequate funding as well as the need of capital funding, plus the persistent efforts of SD5 to replace Mount Baker Secondary School.
MBSS was constructed in 1949, according to KMB Architects, and in 2008 it was designated category D — indicating the building is in very poor condition and in need of significant redevelopment. The Board is persistent in their request for over $400,000 in funding to make repairs to the drama and music rooms in order to temporarily repair the roof’s structural integrity.
“This building is past its best-before-date, and is out of step with the current, revised curriculum,” said Johns, adding that repairs and upgrades undertaken to maintain a safe environment for students has cost the District over $1 million over the course of the last decade — with that mount ever increasing.
“We know that all students have unique educational needs,” Johns said. “But for approximately 13% of our students, the funding we receive is insufficient to adequately support those needs.”
Johns explains that this is “unacceptable,” stating every student deserves to graduate with dignity and purpose. In 2001, the Liberal government 2001 deregulated a portion of special needs funding and since then, the District has provided an additional 5 to 6 per cent of the Basic Allocation Funding to support these students throughout their education.
The Ministry of Education has reported a 9 per cent increase in provincial target funding for the 2019 2020 year. According to Johns, however, this long-overdue funding, while welcomed and appreciated, is not enough and more is yet required for support services.
“This additional funding enables the District to keep up with the well-deserved and past due staff salary increases, but it is still not enough to ensure that all of our students have the supports they need, and deserve.”
Johns indicated that SD5 will continue to advocate about this funding issue on these students’ behalf.