Coquitlam school district lays out funding concerns to education minister

Board chair Melissa Hyndes expressed hope for
Board chair Melissa Hyndes expressed hope for 'a miracle' to resolve the teachers' labour dispute before school resumes in the fall.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

A tumultuous school year ended quietly Tuesday as School District 43 conducted its final meeting of the school year in a nearly empty boardroom because of the ongoing labour dispute and a spate of summer weather.

Only one person was in the audience, a speech pathologist concerned about services for students, while teachers, parents and unionized support workers stayed away due to the ongoing strike or holidays.

The meeting was a chance to wrap up board business and to once again raise concerns about education funding.

Trustees plan to send a letter to Education Minister Peter Fassbender to lay out their concerns about lack of funding to cover inflation and other issues.

According to the district, $16.3 million in cost pressures have been absorbed in the district's budget over the last five years, and this year the district had to cut $13.4 million from its budget, resulting in the loss of nearly 200 teachers, youth workers, and support worker positions.

In their letter, trustees called for funding to cover inflation, improved funding for special needs students, guarantees that future labour disputes and class size and composition settlements will be fully funded, and they want a review of the funding formula to make it more equitable.

It will be sent to MLAs, city councillors, all school district groups, and the premier. Trustees also want the letter to be published in an ad in the local paper.

"The public needs to know," said Coquitlam trustee Brian Robinson.

Trustees also want to meet with Education Minister Peter Fassbender who has not yet responded to a second request for a face-to-face meeting.

As business wound down for the school year, board chair Melissa Hyndes urged everyone to rest up during the summer because back to school in the fall would be extremely busy, especially if "by some miracle" the ongoing labour dispute is settled between the BC Teachers' Federation and the government's bargaining arm, the BC Public School Employers' Association this summer.

Business was conducted quickly, including changes to board policy acknowledging new rules for trustees whose terms will be four years not three, beginning with the Nov. 15 civic election. Campaign financing disclosure statements for public access on Election BC's website will now be posted for five years from general voting day.

Previously, posting these disclosures were left to the bylaws of the respective city governments.



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