COPE school trustees, Allen Blakey, Allan Wong and Jane Bouey, announced tonight that, as it stands, they would not and could not vote for the preliminary school board budget presented by the Board of Education’s senior management. “The provincial government’s deliberate under funding and cutbacks are responsible for this budget that does not meet the needs of the children and youth of Vancouver,” said Board vice-chair Jane Bouey. “Districts right across the province, even those with growing enrollment, are facing similar cuts”, she added.
Trustee Allen Blakey commented: “This is crazy. We have money for a stadium roof and to helicopter snow on to Cypress Mountain, but we can’t fund public schools in Vancouver properly.” ”In tonight’s proposed budget, we’re forced to cut direct services to children like special education and inner city school programs, when we should be improving our system. An early Mandarin program that has long been supported by our community is nowhere to be seen in this budget. That’s unacceptable,” asserted Trustee Allan Wong. ”If we’re going to make cuts, then a much bigger proportion needs to come from senior management positions.
The cuts need to be kept as far away as possible from kids,” added Trustee Blakey. Bouey pointed out, “Our budget needs to provide adequate support for all of our students, especially Aboriginal children, ESL students, and those with special needs. The budget we were presented tonight doesn’t do that and we won’t vote for it. Provincial resources need to be increased substantially or the school board can’t do the job it was elected to do.”
According to Blakey, “For the Olympics we invested in our athletes and they returned the investment. We should do the same with our kids in school. We need to work together and demand the provincial government provide that same level of support so that all of our children can be successful at school.”
A final budget is slated to be voted upon on April 29, 7 pm.