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Tri-City parent group wants more discussion about B.C. education funding
A group of parents who planned a successful public education rally last week are hoping the momentum from that event doesn’t cease with the passage of school budgets around the province.
Lisa Cable, who has a son in School District 43 and a daughter who will soon enter kindergarten, said a website will be set up soon on which people can publish their stories about how education cuts are affecting them.
“We want to make it easy for parents,” said Cable, whose group, called Parents4BC, already has a Facebook page and is soliciting comments and providing information.
Cable said the group isn’t aligned politically but the goal is to collect stories from parents from the website, print them out and take them to Victoria.
“Ultimately, we are trying to be very careful,” she said. “We’re not out to attack anyone but, at the end of the day, the people that can make the change on our behalf are in the provincial government. We need to get out our message so something can happen.”
She said the group’s focus began with the Tri-Cities, where $13.4 million was cut from SD43’s budget, passed last Tuesday, including the cutting of 150 jobs. But she said there are concerns all over B.C. about funding for public schools and she expects people around the province to participate in the campaign.
Cable also said she was pleased at the turnout at last Friday’s rally in front of Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Linda Reimer’s office at Suter Brook in Port Moody. More than 100 parents, children, educators and politicians turned out to the event, many of them carrying signs.
Among the speakers were Reimer, a BC Liberal, Coquitlam-Maillardville NDP MLA Selina Robinson and Heidi Gable, past president of the District Parent Advisory Committee.
Reimer said she would take the parents’ message to the Ministry of Education but also said that funding has increased over the last 13 or 14 years. As well, she said the province must control its spending to retain its triple-A credit rating, a statement that drew grumbles and negative comments from the crowd.
Robinson told the demonstrators the problem with cuts at public schools is chronic underfunding by Victoria.
Gable said SD43 has done the best it could with funding but can’t meet increasing expenses with existing operating grants. She also noted that school parent advisory councils are having to fundraise for things that aren’t frills, pointing out the latest job cuts will include teachers, psychologists and speech and language pathologists.
“This isn’t fluff and PACs can’t fundraise for more psychologists,” Gable said.