As many school districts wrestle with budget shortfalls that climb into the million or more dollar range, parents, trustees, teachers, and other school staff are demanding the provincial government take responsibility for the chaos they are creating in public education.
Find out how people are organizing to stop cuts and school closures. Share this page and spread the word about the growing pushback.
Speaking up, speaking out…
Chronic underfunding from the provincial government has led the VSB to recommend the simultaneous closure of 12 Vancouver schools. If all 12 schools close, 3,188 children will lose their neighbourhood school, thousands more will feel the impact in crowded facilities stripped of essential educational spaces, and vital community support networks will be dismantled.
Parent Advocacy Network (PAN), September 2016.
[School closures are] symptoms of an education system that is sick. It has been cut so many times it’s bleeding to death and now we’re losing schools. We want the government to understand that their delays in seismic upgrading are unacceptable. School closures aren’t making kids any safer.
Kelly Greene, parent and member of Richmond Schools Stand United, Vancouver Sun, September 17, 2016.
It doesn’t matter which schools close because the bottom line is that the province is starving our public education system. It’s not right that in a wealthy province like B.C. vital programs like music or art will be cut and portables added so that a school can reach 95 per cent capacity in order to receive seismic upgrading. It’s absurd.
Kim Nowitsky, member of Richmond Schools Stand United, Richmond News, September 16, 2016.
[The B.C. government is] not providing capital funds for those types of programs if you have excess space in schools. They see it as a bad investment. So on one hand they’re encouraging keeping smaller schools open, but on the other hand they’re saying they’re not going to give you money to maintain or improve buildings until you deal with capacity issues. So it’s a bit of a mixed message.
Wendy Hyer, SD 67 Superintendent, Penticton Herald, September 13, 2016
BC School Trustees
Predictable and sustainable funding remains a core expectation of all boards of education. It is the position of BCSTA that government as a whole must immediately meet its previously announced commitments by increasing the basic per pupil allocation by an amount that fully addresses the current funding shortfall.
Teresa Rezansoff, President of the B.C. School Trustees Association, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, March 30, 2016
BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC)
Faced with unanimous criticism over their per student funding allocation in March, the BC government has now placed a band aid on a gaping wound.
Nicole Makohoniuk, BCCPAC President, Press Release, April 11, 2016
SD 5 Southeast Kootenay
The ‘difficult’ choices Districts currently face are not the fault of poor decision-making […] They are the product of a consistent policy of underfunding by government …
Frank Lento, Board Chair, SD5, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, May 11, 2016
SD 8 Kootenay Lake
I fear our public system will suffer death by a thousand school closures. …
We're seeing this pitting of one against another here, and everyone wants to save their own school for equally valid reasons. But we need to ask you to rail against this government, because that's where the problem lies. Not here.
Paul Boscariol, President, Nelson Teachers’ Union, Nelson Star, April 6, 2016
I feel like I’m doing Christy Clark’s dirty work. This has been an emotionally charged and emotionally draining process for me. The issue is wanting a Cadillac education system when we can only afford the Volkswagen.
Curtis Bendig, School Trustee, Nelson Star, May 4, 2016
What is happening in our district is not the best thing for our students; it is happening because according to law, our school board has to balance a budget (or they are fired), and they are closing schools to balance it. ...
What if, just, what if, all the school boards in BC stood up to this government which has over the last 15 years, systematically destroyed our public school system?
Lisa Backus, Parent/Teacher, Nelson Star, May 5, 2016
This is for deferred maintenance of neglected schools around the province. There’s probably hundreds of millions of dollars of deferred maintenance, so even at this rate it would take decades to get on top of that.
Rob Fleming, NDP Education Critic, Nelson Star, May 26, 2016
Ministers of Education and Finance are implored to move public education from a soon to be system of diminishing returns to a system that is financially and pedagogically supported in a meaningful way, to continue to meet the diverse and most important needs of BC’s students.
Lenora Trenaman, Board Chair, SD8, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, May 26, 2016
It’s not money we’ll receive year after year. It’s going to help and we’re glad for it, but it won’t make much of a difference. …
Honestly, we just wish we had enough funding for all the needs of our learners to be met.
Lenora Trenaman, Board Chair, Nelson Star, June 2, 2016
In our local school district, six schools are currently being considered for closure. Six. And our share of the $20 million, $252,000, is nowhere near enough to keep any of them open. That amount is the equivalent of 2.5 teachers, or a drop in the $85-million bucket of deferred maintenance needed in our schools. …
Announcements like this are about keeping up appearances and holding on to power. They are about shifting blame for the results of BC Liberal decisions to underfund public education.
Michelle Mungall, Nelson-Creston MLA, Nelson Star, June 3, 2016
SD 20 Kootenay-Columbia
Two weeks ago, in the funding announcement by the provincial government, we found out that our ministry funding will not be sufficient to cover the salary increases for teachers and support staff negotiated by the province.
Greg Luterbach, Superintendent, Trail Daily Times, March 30, 2016
Our government's spin on public education funding is that it has increased since 2002 but the fact is that the increase has not kept up with basic increases in costs and inflation and BC is now second to last in per student funding in Canada and is providing $1000 below the national average per student.
Andrew M. Davidoff, President, Kootenay Columbia Teachers' Union, Rossland Telegraph, March 30, 2016
Is it possible for us to ever have a budget that works? …It doesn't matter what we cut because every year we'll be looking at something else.
Leanne Osokin, Parent, Trail Daily Times, April 7, 2016
I'm very sad, not with you guys but with our ministry and the people that don't think that our education and our children are important. When is the money going to go to our children …?
Cheryl Vandergaag, Parent, Trail Daily Times, April 7, 2016
There are no more schools to close and you can't squeeze blood from a turnip.
Teri Ferworn, Board Chair, Trail Daily Times, April 15, 2016
Over the past six years, the school district has been forced to cut over $6 million in teachers, support staff, technology, administration, maintenance, custodians, supplies and even close schools in order to balance the budget -tell our government enough is enough and bring prosperity to our schools.
SD20 board, Kootenay-Columbia Teachers' Union, CUPE Local 1285 and SD20 District Parent Advisory Council, Trail Daily Times, April 15, 2016
In the last six years, due to the ministry’s chronic underfunding, this district has lost just under six million dollars in funding. Our community, including parents and those who work in schools, have been speaking up about chronic underfunding and recently some funds were restored. But it’s just a drop in the bucket.
Roger Smith, President, CUPE Local 1285, Castlegar, Trail Daily Times, October 5, 2016
SD 23 Central Okanagan
I didn't see anything in the budget that would make me feel optimistic that there's going to be more money going into public education that will cover any other extra costs. … Funding increases are not keeping up with increased enrolment in the district. The trouble is the amount they give us per pupil isn't staying level with the extra costs that we've got.
Moira Baxter, Board Chair, The Daily Courier (Kelowna), February 18, 2016
I remember the days when we got funding increases to cover all our costs including inflation. We really have not seen inflationary support from the government for the last 10 years. Now it's the government's typical fashion to say 'you're not getting any money for increases and you have to go find that in your budget.'
Larry Paul, Secretary-Treasurer, The Daily Courier (Kelowna), February 18, 2016
The Ministry of Education has increased the funding to the public education system, however this funding is proving insufficient to meet the cost of continuing all existing services to students …
Superintendent Kevin Kaardal, Kelowna Capital News, April 15, 2016
This is not about Christy Clark doing what’s right for parents and kids, this is all about Christy Clark trying to make bad headlines go away until after the election,” said Horgan. “This is not new funding. There are no cheques going to local school boards. All that the B.C. Liberals are saying is that they won’t be clawing back the $25 million that they were originally demanding from schools across B.C.
John Horgan, B.C NDP leader, The Daily Courier (Kelowna), June 1, 2016
SD 27 Cariboo-Chilcotin
It is great to hear that these dollars will be given back to school districts. However, this is still not enough to offset the additional unfunded costs that have been downloaded to school boards, such as BC Hydro rate increases, Medical Services Plan premium increases and wage increases for our exempt staff.
Tanya Guenther, Board Chair, 100 Mile House Free Press, [full article behind pay wall], June 2, 2016
SD 28 Quesnel
As a Board, we feel that it is disingenuous for the government to announce increases to per student funding on one hand, while offloading unexpected costs to Districts on the other.
SD28, News Release, May 16, 2016
SD 33 Chilliwack
We are disappointed that the education budget is essentially ‘frozen’ while the cost pressures continue to increase. We are, however, relieved that wage increases will be covered as we still struggle to find administrative "efficiencies" amounts that the Ministry is clawing back. Education of B.C.'s students and tomorrow's leaders does not seem to be a priority for this government.
Silvia Dyck, Board Chair, Chilliwack Progress, February 19, 2016
Many DPAC discussion throughout the year focus on the amount of time and effort PACs spend fundraising. Cuts to public education funding in B.C. have been on-going for more than a decade and PACs are expected by school administration and school board staff to simply fill the gaps. It is our belief that this is causing parents to disassociate from their school’s PAC, and ultimately be less involved in their children’s education. This is detrimental to students, parents, and the operation of the PAC, and will have long-term negative effects on society.
Justine Hodge, DPAC president, letter to Chilliwack MLA John Martin and Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness, May 19, 2016
SD 36 Surrey
[We] are forever playing catch-up with enrolment and about $4 million is effectively skimmed off the top from a very tight budget every year to support our portables, and this isn't recognized in provincial funding. There are about 300 portable classrooms in Surrey, which has more than 70,000 students.
Shawn Wilson, Board Chair, Vancouver Sun, April 6, 2016
It’s the kids in this city who are suffering. Parents have been unbelievably patient, but the province needs to step up and make some announcements in Surrey.
Laurae McNally, School Trustee, Surrey North Delta Leader, April 22, 2016
Surrey schools are bursting at the seams from overcrowded conditions. An entire generation of parents and kids in Surrey has seen school overcrowding get worse, not better, under this government.
Rob Fleming, NDP Education Critic, Surrey Leader, May 18, 2016
There are 7,000 kids in portables in Surrey right now, and (the provincial government is) creating 2,700 spaces over the next three years. Clearly the math doesn’t work.
John Horgan, NDP Leader, Vancouver Sun, 21 May 2016
SD 37 Delta
The district did not receive any real significant increase from the provincial government this year. This budget is a reflection of the chronic underfunding that’s occurred. [The budget committee is] looking at a system that’s already suffering from financial strain and we’re trying to minimize the cuts as best we can. ... My commitment as a trustee has been to always keep these cuts out of the classroom. It’s getting to the point where we cannot do that.
Nick Kanakos, School Trustee, The Delta Optimist, April 29, 2016
SD 38 Richmond
In recent years, we have had to make cuts totaling over $15 million, most of which have had to involve reductions in staff. These staffing reductions have resulted in untenable workloads, declining morale and an inability to provide the desired levels of service to our parent and student community.
Debbie Tablotney, Board Chair, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, January 8, 2016
It is much harder to cut now than it was five years ago. At first, you trim the fat. Then you get into the flesh. Then you amputate. It’s a bit of a gruesome analogy, but that’s how best to describe it.
Mark De Mello, Secretary Treasurer, Richmond News, May 4, 2016
One hundred million dollars was recently banked into a ‘prosperity fund’ as if the government is benevolently saving for future citizens. B.C.’s future citizens are attending schools that will have varying degrees of failure in the event of an earthquake. B.C.’s future citizens are attending schools in which the government has deemed enriched learning spaces, such as art or music rooms, to be ‘empty classrooms.’
Kelly Greene, Parent, Richmond News, May 20, 2016
SD 39 Vancouver
We ask the provincial government to stand by their words and invest in our children, as they are the future. Our public education system has been crippled by over a decade of inadequate funding. Parents are tired of fundraising for everything from playgrounds to art and music programs, library books and basic technology. And the inequality between schools continues to grow.
Andrea Sinclair, Parent Advisory Council Chair (Charles Dickens Elementary) and a founding member of PAN, Vancouver Sun, January 28, 2016
The success of our kids is due to the dedication of our teachers, administrators and support staff. However, our world-class school system is at risk due to chronic underfunding, downloading and broken commitments by the provincial government. … On behalf of the VSB I am once again urging the provincial government to reinvest in our public education system by providing adequate, predictable and sustainable funding now.
Mike Lombardi, Board Chair, Vancouver Sun, March 31, 2016
I'm heartbroken and the government blames it all on VSB priorities and mismanagement. I don't blame VSB but provincial underfunding. … My son struggles in a class of 28. How well is he going to do in a class over 30? Is there physically enough space in those classrooms for more than 30 kids working on personalized and project-based learning? How much time does that leave a teacher to give to each student?
Amanda Hills, Parent, Vancouver Sun, April 2, 2016
I think we're being made to think, as citizens, that the choice is close schools or cut programs, but the other option is that the provincial government could increase funding.
Andrea Coutu, Parent, Vancouver Sun, April 2, 2016
This is truly the most sad and depressing turn of events to see that the underfunding from the provincial level has gotten us to the point where we now go past that threshold of 30 students per classroom in secondary schools. There are a number of brutal cuts to student services through this budget, and I think the one that sticks out for us in the most horrendous way is this.
Rory Brown, President, Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association, Vancouver Courier, April 7, 2016
Since [the B.C. Liberals] have been in power, we've had deficit budgets every year. … [Williams said he's] disgusted by the "travesty" of the provincial government's handling of education funding.
Warren Williams, President, CUPE local 15, Vancouver Courier, April 7, 2016
Personally, enough is enough for me. I'm ready to be fired over the budget … There is no better hill to die on.
Mike Lombardi, Board Chair, Vancouver Sun, April 8, 2016
This is the biggest shortfall we’ve ever had in Vancouver and it comes on the heels of multiple years where funding has not kept up with inflation and rising costs. … School districts across BC are closing schools and programs, and it really concerns me that we’ve gotten to the level where experiences of students will be significantly affected.
Patti Bacchus, School Trustee, Daily Xtra, April 8, 2016
In a year when the provincial government is suggesting it will post a surplus, public education ought to be receiving full funding to support the success of every student. Instead we are receiving barely enough funding to achieve educational standards that were considered adequate in a previous century. …
Constant downloading of costs such as these from Victoria to Vancouver over the past several years has created a crisis in our school system. … If left to stand, these cuts will destroy the soul of public education in Vancouver and beyond.
DPAC Vice-President Farah Shroff, Vancouver DPAC Statement re: Budget, April 11, 2016
SD 41 Burnaby
But the 'good news' in this budget presentation is not really 'good news' when you take five years and nearly $10 million in budget cuts into context. These cuts are due to the chronic underfunding of the education system and this is not just a Burnaby problem; it is a provincial issue. Many parents from all parts of the province are seeing cuts in their children's classrooms and in services and supports to their children.
Jen Mezei, Chair, Burnaby DPAC, Media Release, April 6, 2016
SD 42 Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows
It's the whole issue of underfunding education. These families and kids are being denied their access to education because of funding issues.
Scott Susin, Parent, Maple Ridge News, April 12, 2016
We entirely appreciate the frustration of parents and the 300 eligible users of our regular school bus service who are concerned about losing the bus service they have had in the past in the rural areas of our community. Please know this significant change would not be required if the costs outlined above had been fully funded by the provincial government.
Mike Murray, Board Chair, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times, April 25, 2016
In my eight years as a trustee, we have closed two schools, and in the past three years we have made over $10 million in cuts. We know we have to make more cuts next year and the year after that. The funding we received from the provincial government is not sustainable or predictable, which makes long-term planning impossible.
Ken Clarkson, Former Board Chair, Maple Ridge News, April 28, 2016
Shame on the Liberal government for putting children and families in this impossible situation. Why did your government decide to remove the requirement to provide transportation from the school act? Why don't you provide funding specifically for transportation for those districts that your government knows full well have families who live long distances from school? Mr. Dalton, you need to fix this. Our kids are counting on you.
Pascale Shaw, Parent, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times, May 1, 2016
I vote no to our provincial government, which erodes public education. I vote no to our Liberal provincial government, which denies parents the rights to expectations they have for their children…
Ken Clarkson, School Trustee, Maple Ridge News, May 10, 2016
SD 44 North Vancouver
For the current school year our funding is $18 million less than the minimum needed. Our teachers, non-teaching staff, principals and vice-principals, parents, district administration, and trustees all agree that North Vancouver School District is underfunded to this degree … School boards are choosing from a list of very bad options. The problem is at the provincial level.
Megan Higgins, School Trustee, Vancouver Sun, April 18, 2016
SD 46 Sunshine Coast
We ask that you shift to a greater cooperative approach for both decision-making and resource allocation and away from communication that simply spins the numbers to enhance government’s marketing plan. Our students are too important to be pawns in the discussion of resourcing public education.
Betty Baxter, Board Chair, SD46, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, May 27, 2016
SD 53 Okanagan Similkameen
We looked at everything again, and unfortunately the savings from the ministry is not going to be enough to overcome the overwhelming financial pressures that we are facing. …
Our board feels very badly for the community, for the parents, for the students, who once again have to go through this emotional roller-coaster. . . . all of a sudden being hopeful (and) thinking possibly the school could be open.
Marieze Tarr, Board Chair, Penticton Herald, June 1, 2016
SD 57 Prince George
Any new money or money infused into the system is a good thing but there was a big concern that there is still ($727,000) in admin savings that the government has not given back to the district [in reference to the savings submitted to the province last year].
Tony Cable, Board Chair, Prince George Citizen, June 1, 2016
SD 61 Victoria
To be clear, though, we are working within a scarcity paradigm, as are all school districts across B.C. A basic analysis by our administrators and teachers in September indicated that at a basic minimum, we need at least $8.5 million. That means many students are not receiving valuable instructional time and other essential support for their learning.
Deborah Nohr, School Trustee, Times Colonist, May 4, 2016
Each year through our process the groups involved reach the same conclusion: the Ministry of Education is not providing the level of funding required to meet the educational needs of our students.…
The district spends its funds efficiently and effectively, but there is a gap between what the district receives in provincial government funding and what is required to provide the necessary programming and supports to ensure continued student success.
Edith Loring-Kuhanga, Board Chair, (and other district officials/representatives of several groups), letter to education minister Mike Bernier, May 16, 2016.
SD 62 Sooke
Our problem is the budget deficit and the cuts we did are a mirror reflection of the funding we feel we should have got from the government.
Bob Phillips, Board Chair, Times Colonist, May 27, 2016
SD 63 Saanich
Surpluses from previous years have been used up so there is little extra money to apply to a deficit. Had we not had these unexpected costs that were downloaded, we would have been able to balance. … We’ve closed schools, we’ve cut teachers, we’ve cut school-based counsellors over the years.
Victoria Marin, Board Chair, Times Colonist, April 29, 2016
I would say the last 10 years we’ve been treading water. We’ve been doing everything to keep our head above water and to cope. … Taylor said the district is at a ‘tipping point’ and that his organization supports asking the ministry to return funds.
James Taylor, Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils of Saanich, President, Times Colonist, April 29, 2016
After years of staffing and program cuts, and six school closures in Saanich School District, these latest actions by the province are neither fair nor defensible. And remember that last year, the B.C. Liberal government cut taxes by $230 million a year for the top two per cent of income earners in B.C.
I applaud the Saanich school board and parent advisory councils for taking this principled position and I call on the Minister of Education to do the right thing – stop the downloading and avoid further cuts to our public education system.
Gary Holman, MLA, Saanich North and the Islands, Times Colonist, May 6, 2016.
SD 67 Okanagan Skaha
Having been a trustee for 14 years, I know there is nothing left to pick at. …
We are at a stage now, where we don't want to make any more cuts … this process was the end result of a decade of cuts.
Linda Van Alphen, Board Chair, Trail Daily Times, March 11, 2016
The problem is not what to cut or which schools to close. The problem is that the provincial government has been underfunding education for years. … It appears they are cutting public education piece by piece until they can claim that it does not work anymore.
Kevin Epp, Teacher, Penticton Herald, April 11, 2016
It’s been an extremely difficult year and heartbreaking decisions had to be made.
Ginny Manning, School Trustee, Penticton Herald, April 27, 2016
SD 69 Qualicum
The voice of properly funded education is not ‘noise from a few groups.’ It is a united outcry.
Eve Flynn, Board Chair, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, March 11, 2016
SD 71 Comox Valley
As a school trustee in District 71, I am expected to cut services to children in order to balance the budget to satisfy the government in Victoria. ...
As a trustee, I am fed up with having to look students, teachers and parents in the eye and say, ‘Sorry, we can't do better.’ Am I sorry? Nope. I am fighting mad!
Cliff Boldt, School Trustee, Vancouver Sun, March 14, 2016
SD 72 Campbell River
On behalf of the Board of Education, I am writing to express our concern with the constant downloading of education costs to our district. …
This course is unsustainable and that your government continues to download ever increasing costs to school districts, without providing the funding that would allow them to address these increased costs, is causing serious damage to the public education system in this province.
Susan Wilson, Board Chair, letter to education minister Mike Bernier, February 3, 2016
It's so irresponsible for the government to continue to grant increased costs to school districts but then tell us we have to find it inside the budget we've been given. ... We know that the cuts we're making are going to have an impact on schools, on kids, and the quality of education we can deliver.
When you look at the history of cuts in British Columbia that have been made by the provincial government, it puts the districts in such a hard position that, yes, we've got nothing left, sometimes, but to consider closing schools and shutting down programs.
Richard Franklin, School Trustee, Campbell River Mirror, February 4, 2016
There is simply no more ‘low hanging fruit’ and there hasn’t been for a very long time. Each unfunded downloaded cost which the province imposes on our district comes at the expense of our students’ educational opportunity. To pretend otherwise, and imply that there are still ‘efficiencies’ to be made, flies in the face of our daily experience.
Susan Wilson, Board Chair, SD72, letter to finance minister Mike de Jong, May 25, 2016
SD 83 North Okanagan-Shuswap
We see these numbers on a page, but these numbers represent children's lives, parents' lives and employees' lives. We are reaching into the classroom deeper each year.
Barry Chafe, School Trustee, Eagle Valley News, March 29, 2016
As B.C. public school parent advocates, we should not be angry at specific “cuts,” we should be angry at the picture as a whole – a picture that is not only underfunded but under supported.
Brandi Butts, Parent, Eagle Valley News [behind pay wall], May 25, 2016