A short while ago, I posted a question: Will Vancouver cut gifted programs? A dramatic “No” came a few days ago when the Vancouver trustees refused to pass the budget that would have seen the end of the gifted programs and a number of other cuts. By not approving the balanced budget, the trustees risk being fired and so their actions are to be applauded. But what happens now?
According to various media reports, including the Vancouver Sun’s article, the Minister of Education is disappointed with the school board’s decision. In a television interview, the Chair of the Board said he was trying to arrange a meeting with the Minister, to discuss the issues and try to find alternative solutions. With such an invitation to problem solve on the table, it seems unlikely that the Minister would be so high-handed as to fire all the trustees.
Everyone is in limbo now. The teachers should be planning for the fall, but that’s difficult with so much uncertainty. Schools threatened with closure are in a particularly difficult situation. Special needs programming, such as those for the gifted were slated to disappear under the proposed balance budget, but is this a reprieve or just a delay in the inevitable?
At the root of all this is declining enrolment. And many would argue that the cause of that is the increase in house prices that forces young families out of Vancouver and into the suburbs. Evidence of that is in nearby Surrey, where the schools are bursting at the seams. This is a broad societal and economic issue and cutting programs to balance the budget would have been a facile solution.
The question of funding continues to confound me. The BC provincial government proudly announced a surplus in their budget. Why are they so determined not to pass on some of that surplus to the education system?