Vancouver teachers horrified by proposed school district cuts, expects the
provincial government to live up to its responsibilities

VANCOUVER, April 7 /CNW/ - Vancouver school district management has released its preliminary proposals to address a $18.12 million shortfall, and teachers are horrified by what is being proposed - all of which is a result of underfunding and mismanagement by the provincial government.

"In all but one year since 2002/2003, the Vancouver school district has had to make significant cuts to services to kids in classrooms," says Chris Harris, president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association. "This is entirely the fault of the province. The provincial government has continued to underfund school districts, and has continued to download additional costs to the very same school districts it is underfunding."

"Vancouver classrooms and supports to students have already been decimated over the past 8 years because of successive Ministers of Education failure to provide funding that meets the real needs of our students," Chris Harris continues. "During the eight-year period ending in 2009/2010, the district reduced its operating budget by a new total of $51 million - and now there is an additional $18.12 million shortfall. It is a completely intolerable situation. Kids cannot take another round of cuts."

"These cuts will decimate services to students who speak English as a second language and students who have special learning needs," Chris Harris explains. "These cuts the district is being forced to make go against the core purpose of supporting the needs of all learners. The provincial government must do something about this rather than washing its hands of any responsibility."

Vancouver teachers have expressed grave concerns about dismissive comments that the Minister of Education has made in the media over the past couple of weeks in the lead up to the Vancouver school district's budget proposal announcements. Vancouver teachers believe comments have obfuscated the facts around the downloaded costs to school districts, clawback and then partial reinstatement of some grants, and how "per pupil funding" has been calculated differently from one year to the next.

"The current Minister of Education is either completely ignorant of the real costs of running a school district and what supports students need, or she is deliberately misrepresenting the situation," says Chris Harris. "Either way, she has demonstrated that she should either resign her position or be removed from her position. Her failure to support Vancouver students and public schools, and the failure of the provincial government to support Vancouver students and public schools, is inexcusable."

SOURCE VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

For further information: For further information: Chris Harris at (604) 873-8378 (office) or (604) 760-5833 (cell). Chris Harris is the president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association, representing elementary teachers and adult educators in Vancouver public schools

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VESTA: VANCOUVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION

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