Independents Working for You school board candidates are calling on the Ministry of Education to let stakeholders review the draft of the province’s new school funding formula and provide feedback before it’s implemented in March 2019.
In a Sept. 26 press release, incumbent school board chair Laura Dixon expressed frustration that there are no commitments from the ministry to show boards of education and school district stakeholders the new plans.
“It did not bode well that the province said the scope of the funding formula review was limited to discussing only how funds were allocated and would not speak to whether current funding levels were sufficient,” Dixon said in the release.
“We wondered if this would be a repeat of the past when the ministry sent some of Delta’s transportation funding away to school districts in other parts of the province.”
Dixon, who also serves as chair of the Metropolitan branch of the British Columbia School Trustees Association, said this raised alarm bells with Lower Mainland trustees, and she initiated a motion from the branch asking the Ministry of Education to ensure no school districts would lose funding as a result of the review.
“The motion was passed by BCSTA members and yet no reassurances have been received from the ministry, so we remain very concerned that this process could see funding shifting from region to region and create additional funding shortfalls,” Dixon said. The Delta Board of Education took a similar action, she added, asking the province include time for further input. She said they had not “received any assurances” that will happen.
“Our students, staff and families who may be affected by funding allocation changes deserve a voice in this process,” she continued. “They deserve to see the draft formula and to be able to compare it to the current funding model to know if the proposed changes will be beneficial or not.
“Perhaps there are improvements that can be made in the formula, but it has to include sufficient funds and it has to be a transparent process that builds trust amongst all the education partners.”
Dixon’s running mate Joe Muego, who chairs Delta’s District Parent Advisory Council, said stakeholders at a special Delta school board meeting about the funding formula changes found it difficult to give input when no specifics were being offered by the ministry.
“In fact, we wouldn’t have had any opportunity to speak to this at the local level without the board’s initiative to call their own meeting even through the funding formula review is a provincial initiative,” Muego said in a press release. “For many of us around the table, we reached the conclusion that how the funding pie is cut is of little consequence if there isn’t a big enough pie to begin with.”
“Parents and other education partners deserve real agency in this process,” he continued. “Our students are counting on us to get this right.”
Fellow Independents Working for You candidate and incumbent trustee Nick Kanakos, who serves as the board’s representative at the BC Public Sectors Employees Association, noted that the changes are slated to take place just before the 2019 bargaining cycle gets underway.
“It doesn’t make any sense that they would establish a new funding formula and not take into account that there could be items negotiated that increase costs or speak to how funds must be allocated,” Kanakos said in a press release. “We saw this occur with the recently restored class size and composition language and the ministry had to act quickly [to] add funding to catch up. It makes me ask why embark on a wholesale review when the new formula could become out of step and cause shortfalls within the same year?”
“Implementation is fast approaching so it will be necessary to elect trustees who are already out in front on this urgent matter,” he continued. “Our team’s core values are integrity, leadership, community and inclusiveness, and we commit to do everything we can on behalf of Delta students and stakeholders to ensure adequacy of funding and a process that respects Delta’s needs.”
The civic election will take place on Oct. 20, with advance voting on Oct. 6, 10 and 11.