Letter of Support for the Board of Education Cowichan School District 79

Note: School District 61 Greater Victoria’s 2012-2013 budget projection shows a continuing structural deficit. Page 4 of the Public Budget Presentation is a graphic representation of that situation. ~DMcN

May 29, 2012
Media, Minister of Education, MPs, MLAs, Trustees School Districts 79 and 61,

Superintendent of Schools SD61 Gaiptman, BCSTA, and BCSTA President McEvoy,

The letter below is for your information.Media staff, please feel free to use the letter below as a news item. Print media editors, we submit it for consideration as an opinion piece / letter to the editor (389 words). Clearly, we are speaking as individuals, not on behalf of the Board of Education, SD61.

Diane McNally
Trustee, SD61 Greater Victoria

May 29, 2012
Victoria, British Columbia

Eden Haythornthwaite,  Chair
Board of Education, School District 79 Cowichan Valley:

The Cowichan School District 79 Board of Education recently passed a motion to submit to the Minister of Education only a budget that reflects the funding actually needed to maintain services to students in the District. Loss of a number of students does not mean the costs of maintaining buildings and infrastructure lessens. Inflation drives costs of everything consistently upward, while funding in real dollars falls and increasingly, other costs are offloaded to School Districts – costs such as the ill-advised Carbon Trust payments that saw School Districts subsidizing corporate carbon emissions. Funding announcements from the Ministry of Education have been capricious and irregular since 2001, with cuts announced suddenly and later, when we are supposed to have forgotten what was taken, part of the money taken from public education is announced as a generous gift. We, along with the majority of the Cowichan Board, protest the ideological decision that has brought about tax breaks for corporations, and increasing the percentage of public tax dollars going to subsidize private schools, while public infrastructure is starved. This government owes public education approximately three billion dollars. Its legislation has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and it has been censured by the International Labour Organization of the United Nations.

A motion came before the Greater Victoria Board of Education at its regular meeting, Tuesday May 23, to write a letter of support for the Cowichan Board. A previous motion to submit only a “needs budget”, as Cowichan has done, failed 5 to 4 at the Greater Victoria School District Board meeting on April 16. The motion to  write a letter of support was defeated also, with the same voting record, apart from one Trustee who was absent, resulting in a tie vote which causes a motion to fail. Motions and voting records in Board meetings are public records, available on the School District 61 website.

As individual Trustees for the Greater Victoria School District, we write as a matter of public record to express our solidarity with and support for the Cowichan Board and their resistance to the destruction of public education, and to express our conviction that it would be folly for the Minister of Education to remove these thoughtful Trustees from the Board.

As a minority voice on the School District 61 Board, we stand with the Cowichan Board and applaud their courage.

Diane McNally, Catherine Alpha, Deborah Nohr, Edith Loring-Kuhanga
Board of Education Trustees, School District 61 Greater Victoria