Former trustee stands up for restorative budget decision

For the first time in a decade our community had the opportunity to press for the restoration of essential programs and services.

In the July 11th  Lake Cowichan Gazette, Trustee Cathy Schmidt stated the restoration budget took the focus away from other important school district issues like the installation of a computer lab at Palsson Elementary.

I found this statement puzzling considering Trustee Schmidt spoke and voted against a board motion to have the lab installed even though it was supported by both the staff and the parents of that school. As part of our day to day work, our board made this a priority within our annual facilities grant discussion among many other projects.

Trustee Schmidt goes on to say that this year was not the year for a restoration budget as more money was coming. However, all the funds she goes on to mention were taken in to account in the budget process we built.

The provincial allocation was short  $2.3 million if the Cowichan District  was to offer the same programs and services it provided in the previous year.

To make up this shortfall, the board cut legal and travel budgets etc., but the bulk of this deficit was made up by laying off 17 desperately needed teachers.

Over the last four budgets — since 2009 — our school district has cut $11 million from supports and programs our students urgently need. The future doesn’t look any brighter as the Ministry’s five year funding estimate shows government allocation will be reduced by over a million dollars a year for the next four years.

For the first time in a decade our community — represented by elected trustees — had the opportunity to press for the restoration of essential programs and services. However we also nurtured the needs of our schools while we worked to build a better budget model for our kids.

This board could not simply participate in the dismantling of our education system as previous boards had done.

 

Duncan Brown

Former trustee, Cowichan

Valley School Board