‘Stable, predictable funding’ needed for public education says school trustee

Richard Franklin School trustee

If there’s not going to be enough money to do it properly, it would at least be nice if school districts knew how much “not enough” there was going to be from year to year so they could plan accordingly.

That’s the message being drafted into a letter from the Board of Education of School District 72 (SD72) to the Ministry of Finance.

“One of the major problems that has faced the education sector in the last, in particular, two years, are the surprises – the so-called ‘administrative savings,’ the downloading of costs, and so one of the things we’re afflicted with is the inability to plan long-term,” said Trustee Richard Franklin at this week’s public meeting of the Board of Education.

So Franklin had the idea that something be said about that problem to those who could do something about it.

“Even if funding was tight, but was at least predictable,” he continued, “if we had a five-year plan from our funders – the provincial government, we could probably do a lot better job, but right now we just can’t depend on anything from the provincial government, so the proposal that I make is that we write a letter to the Ministry of Finance regarding stable, predictable funding, outlining the advantages there would be to both us and the government.”

Trustee Ted Foster then asked Franklin if the request would also be for an increase in funding.

“Is it just a given that you’ll also be asking for more?” Foster asked.

“Well, improved funding would be good, as well,” Franklin responded.

“But if we could just depend on what’s announced – if we knew that this was the amount of money we are going to get for the next five years, I think we could do some, I think, pretty powerful planning.”

Trustee John Kerr said the concept ties in well with recent motions passed at the B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA) Annual General Meeting, which, Kerr said, “had to do with the BCSTA contacting the government and Ministry of Education to, I think the word was ‘demand,’ adequate funding for the public education system in this province.

“I think if they were hearing from various boards, including ours, as well as from the BCSTA,” he said, there could be some pressure put on the government to fix the system in some noticeable way.

Kerr also suggested that the letter suggest that inflation be built into the model, because, as it sits, the minimal funding the school district receives is chipped away at even more each year by continually increasing costs.

Board Chair Susan Wilson said the Communications Strategy Committee, on which she sits, “would be happy to draft a letter [outlining these concerns] and bring it back to the board shortly for approval.”