By the year 2016, provincial revenues are projected to more than double from 2001-2002. But while health spending is expected to rise 80 per cent during the same time period, money spent on education is set to increase only 11 per cent.
And that, says the Surrey Board of Education, is a big problem.
The board outlined its concerns in a letter to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, saying the government’s “commitment to fiscal discipline cannot come at the expense of children’s futures.“
Ballooning costs over many years have outpaced dollars coming from Victoria, say trustees, resulting in continual cuts to services that support children’s learning.
“If boards of education are to be successful in their goals, they must be able to rely on adequate and sustainable funding,” board chairperson Shawn Wilson said. “We know that an investment now will ensure a bright future for our children.”
The board cites cost increases that are out of its control, such as hydro and employee benefits, which have consistently increased and haven’t been covered by subsequent increases in provincial funding.
As the board has pointed out to Victoria in the past, the growing district faces additional extra costs because building schools has not kept pace with the number of new students, leaving 6,000 kids in portables. The number of portables has increased 41 per cent in the past 12 years, costing Surrey an extra $4.3 million each year – money that would pay for about 50 extra teachers, the district says.
“These teaching positions could be of extraordinary help in dealing with class size and composition,” said Wilson.
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services holds provincewide consultations each fall in preparation for the next provincial budget. Visit http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance/budget-consultations.asp for more information or to make a submission. The deadline is Friday (Oct. 17).