Column: School boards making do with less

When I was on the Cariboo Chilcotin School Board, trustees had some control over what was happening in the schools.

Forty-some years ago when I represented the citizens of Williams Lake on the Cariboo Chilcotin School Board, trustees had some control over what was happening in the schools.

Money didn’t grow on trees, but there was enough to do what was needed with some left over for innovative programs. It seems now it’s all about trying to make do with not enough money.

While I have assorted descendants in local schools, for once in ages I don’t have a student living with me, so I wasn’t paying much attention until a Vancouver Sun story caught my eye.

It said while school boards are grappling with cash shortfalls, Education Minister Peter Fassbender is demanding additional “administrative savings.” He will have a special advisor review the Vancouver School Board’s budget to make sure it’s done right.

School boards are getting a double whammy. They have to deal with increased costs (IE rising utility rates) with no increase in funding, and what funding they did have is cut back. How can that enhance student learning?

If Mr. Fassbender doesn’t think trustees are doing a good job, why doesn’t he just eliminate school districts and run the system from Victoria? That would save a few dollars.

I’m surprised school trustees aren’t on the warpath.

***

An issue that isn’t getting much media attention is Canada’s Health Accord. The accord, which sets funding and health care service delivery agreements between the federal and provincial and territorial governments, expired last year. The feds don’t seem anxious to renew it but critics see millions of dollars in health care cuts coming up.

Without the accord, access to health care depends on where you live and your ability to pay. Next Tuesday health advocacy groups will launch a Canada-wide protest.

They say without the accord, federal funding will fall to 18 per cent from its original 50 per cent, inequality between provinces will grow, wait times will lengthen and patients will suffer.

Bonne Sante!

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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