Ed. note: Holmes encourages all parents and citizens who are concerned about education funding to make a submission to this committee; the deadline for submissions is this Friday:
To: Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services
I am making this submission as I am very concerned about the funding of our public education system in the province, and even more so about the situation here in Surrey.
We are very fortunate in our province to have fantastic teachers, administrators, and support staff that do the best they can with what they have, supportive parents who volunteer a lot of their time to help out, and hard-working students that we all want to see thrive.
Unfortunately, it seems that education is becoming less of a financial priority in this province every year. I have seen a variety of statistics that support this, with one of the more dramatic examples being the percentage of the provincial budget that is spent on education – from approximately 19 per cent in 2002 to approximately 13 per cent this year, and projections are for this to continue decreasing over the next couple of years. As a result, districts are forced to make cuts in spite of increased funding, as the increases never match the increases in expenses – increases that are not in the districts’ control.
In Surrey specifically, we are faced with the additional challenge of our growth. While growth should be good news in that it means more funding, unfortunately when we have over 270 portables, and 7,000 students learning in those portables every day, it means more cuts in the classrooms. Our district estimates that the extra costs associated with these portables (heat, light, maintenance, moving expenses, etc.) are approximately $4 million per year in our district. Since there is no funding provided for this, it means $4 million in cuts to staffing and resources in our classrooms.
I was part of an Ad-Hoc Committee that made a submission to your committee in 2011 about our capital funding issues. We have received some funding for new schools and additions since then, but not nearly enough. Since we are looking at four to five years from a funding announcement to kids being in a school, the recent news that the province has asked districts not to submit capital funding plans this year is nothing short of appalling.
I don’t believe it’s fair to our teachers, support staff, and administrators, to ask them to keep doing the same great work every year with less and less funding. It’s not fair to our parents to put them in a position where they feel like they need to constantly raise funds to ensure their children’s classrooms have everything they need. But most importantly, it’s not fair to our children, and all the children of this province, to give them less and less support every year.
Bob Holmes Concerned Surrey parent