Simply is not enough says Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall
The Provincial government announced on Wednesday that it will be redirecting $25 Million in administrative savings from school districts back into frontline services for students.
Education Minister Mike Bernier, who made the announcement, said districts can use the funding any way they see fit – for hiring new teachers, for programs, or for maintaining schools despite falling enrolment in certain regions.
This is good news for Kootenay Lake School District 8, especially in light of the ongoing Facilities Draft Plan that is calling for the potential closure of schools.
Kootenay Lake School District will be receiving $252,383, which, while maybe a boon to the district, simply is not enough according to Michelle Mungall, NDP MLA for Nelson-Creston.
“With $85 Million in deferred maintenance this is a drop in the bucket for the needs of SD8,” Mungall told The Nelson Daily.
“The $250,000 equates to about 2.5 teachers, and while people are happy with this news, it’s simply not enough.”
According to the release, School districts have been informed that they will not have to pay their share of $25 million worth of provincial charges this year, and instead can use those funds to improve their schools any way they see fit.
Mungall said that the news was merely a “smoke and mirrors” tactic from Christy Clark’s Liberal government, and that while it appears on the surface that this money is a much needed injection of funds into the education system, it is in fact money that was already there.
“Districts worked hard to reduce their administrative costs and we are pleased to be able to direct that $25 million back to programs and initiatives that will directly benefit the kids of B.C.,” said Mike Bernier, Minister for Education.
“Our government is committed to ensuring that maximum education dollars go into services for students.”
However, just where that money is going to go remains to be seen.
Jeff Jones, Superintendent for Kootenay Lake School District 8, said that the real challenge lies in the fact that this funding is a one-time thing, and because the district cannot count on this occurring again in the future, it limits how the funds can be directed.
“During our Budget process, with a budget stakeholder engagement committee of 23 people representing all stakeholders and staff, we identified about $2.7 million dollars of initiatives that we were unable to fund in our preliminary 2016-2017 budget,” Jones said.
“So, yes, we are pleased that the administrative savings have been redirected back to our district.”
Jones said that the finance and operations committee will make these decisions in the fall, and that he suspects these funds will be directed to some of the aforementioned initiatives the district was unable to fund previously.
As for the effect on the Facilities Draft Plan, Jones said that is entirely up to the Board, who will receive recommendations from the Finance and Operations Committee of the Whole.
The Kootenay Lake School Board Public Consultation Meeting Schedule heats up Monday, June 13 at Winlaw Elementary from 6-9 p.m.
No doubt local parents and students will be present to sway the board as Winlaw Elementary is slated to be one of the schools closed.
The Board has stops in Creston, June 15; in Meadow Creek at Jewett Elementary, another potential closure, June 20; Trafalgar Middle School June 21; Salmo Elementary June 22 and Yahk Elementary, June 27.