Provincial budget fails to meet kids' needs, will lead to worse conditions
say Vancouver teachers

VANCOUVER, March 3 /CNW/ - The provincial budget, released yesterday, fails Vancouver students, agree elementary and secondary teachers in Vancouver.

"The government still doesn't have a plan to address growing concerns about class size and support for children with special needs," says Chris Harris, President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA). "Nowhere in the BC Liberal government's proposed budget is there a commitment to address class size and class composition, which is the number one concern for teachers in Vancouver. We still have thousands and thousands of classes over the limits in the School Act. Failure to fund school districts properly so that they can meet the requirements of the School Act guarantees that things will be worse for students next year."

"The association that represents secretary-treasurers has said the system needed $300 million just to maintain the status quo, and the status quo was inadequate to begin with," says Anne Guthrie Warman, President of the Vancouver Secondary Teachers' Association (VSTA). "Yesterday's announcement from the province only included an Operating Grant increase of $112 million - which is only part-way to the inadequate status quo. The small increase in funding is not enough to prevent deficits. The public should not be fooled by the government's messaging. We will still see cuts, possible layoffs, and school closures."

"The BC Liberals are still failing to recognize many of the cost pressures that school districts are facing - pension contributions, MSP increases, transportation costs, BC Hydro rates, or costs associated with carbon neutrality that the provincial government imposed," points out Chris Harris. "So, despite the government's commitment to fund costs associated with full-day Kindergarten and salary increases, there are still millions of dollars of unfunded cost pressures. Those shortfalls will force school districts to make cuts that will impact students in the classroom."

"Furthermore, the government's claim that they have restored the $110 million Annual Facilities Grant is misleading," says Anne Guthrie Warman. As Chris Harris explains: " The government has committed to funding $55 million for this year and $55 million next year. That means $110 million by March 2011, which is a far cry from 'restoring the AFG,' as the government is claiming. It is actually a 50% cut this year (a year late) and a 50% cut next year."

"We urge parents, teachers, students, and members of the community to contact their MLA immediately," state Chris Harris and Anne Guthrie Warman. "There is no time to waste. MLAs need to hear how desperate this situation is, and what changes need to me made to the budget before it is finalized."

SOURCE VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

For further information: For further information: Chris Harris, (604) 873-8378 (office) or (604) 760-5833 (cell); or Anne Guthrie Warman, (604) 873-5570 (office) or (604) 786-2651 (cell)

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VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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