Decreased funding and rising costs could lead to cutbacks to student learning, says the Revelstoke Board of Education in a letter to the BC Minister of Education.
The March 6 letter to Minister Peter Fassbender was prompted by the latest B.C. budget, which asks school boards across the province to cut $29 million from their budget this year, and a further $25 million next year.
“He’s got this from every single school board in the province,” Alan Chell, the chair of the Revelstoke Board of Education, told the Review. “It’s something provincially we’re all united on.”
For the Revelstoke School District, this means cutting $59,150 from the administrative budget this year, and $56,000 next year.
“We think it’s very misleading to make comments we can cut administration and it doesn’t affect students,” said Chell. “We’re definitely not a district that has people in communications and all sorts of positions that larger districts have.”
In the letter, which is signed by Chell, the board writes, “It is clear that protecting programs and services to students, in the face of increased costs and a lack of funding to meet those pressures, will be even more challenging than in previous years.”
The letter was posted to the BC School Trustees Association website last month.
In it, the board writes that the loss of funding protection, teacher salary increases, increases to pensions and benefits, and increased utility costs are all leading to a funding shortfall for the upcoming school year.
The board notes it has worked hard to keep class sizes low, address class composition issues, and staff extra education assistants and specialist teacher positions.
“The low-hanging fruit has been gone for years,” Chell said. “We’re trying to get the message across that cuts do affect students.”
The letter says the school district has reduced spending in all areas not directly related to student learning, but further cutbacks “will have an impact on the learning conditions in our classrooms.”
The school district has begun it’s budget process for next year. It is expecting an extra $25,418 in funding next year over this year, but that cover anticipated cost increases.
“There is an immediate need for an increase in funding to address the widening the gap between revenues and expenses,” wrote Chell. “We call on government to demonstrate a commitment to public education by allocating funding that reflects increased expenses related to conditions outside of our control.”