Education is important — making sure that our kids start off on the right foot is every parent’s goal, and having well-funded schools is vital to making that happen. An investment in education is perhaps the most important investment we can make, because it is an investment in the future of our communities. This week, I want to take some time to talk about our children’s education.
So how are we doing here in Cariboo-Chilcotin? In the 2001/02 school year, School District 27 had 7,847 students and a $54.7 million budget. The number of students has declined in the decade since, but the funding hasn’t – for the 2012/13 school year, with just over 5,000 students, we have a $52.8 million budget. When you do the math, this means that the amount of funding per student has steadily increased during that time, from $6,972 per student in 2001 to $10,549 per student in 2012. We’re investing much more per child than we were ten years ago.
We’ve also brought down class sizes to make sure that our kids get the individual attention they need, reducing the number of classes with more than thirty students by a wide margin since the 2005/06 school year, and we have invested in programs to make sure our kids get ahead. Here in School District 27, we have invested over $1.1 million in the StrongStart BC program. StrongStart BC is a free drop-in early learning program for preschool kids and their parents, where a childhood educator leads activities like story-telling, music and arts. This helps young kids, at a crucial stage in their development, grow socially, emotionally, and linguistically, while they become comfortable in a school setting.
With that kind of investment in our children’s education, we can be sure that our kids will have the best possible start in life.
Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.