Premier at Vancouver's Queen Mary Elementary School on Wednesday, but will he tell truth about school funding?

    VANCOUVER, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - Premier Gordon Campbell will be making several
announcements at Queen Mary Elementary School on Wednesday this week, but
continues to ignore the underfunding issues in public schools. He will be
discussing development of demonstration pilot sites of a community hub model
in three Vancouver schools (Queen Mary, Gordon, and Strathcona), and make
announcements about Early Learning & the disposal of schools.
    "I expect that these will be more initiatives that the province won't
actually support financially," says Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver
Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA). "Or at least not in a
meaningful way, much like all the other 'initiatives' that get passed down to
schools and school districts without support."
    "The premier refuses to tackle the real issue that is at the heart of the
problem facing all school districts and all schools in this province - the
fact that they continue to be underfunded during an era of record-breaking
provincial surplusses" argues Glen Hansman.
    "The Premier and the Minister of Education continue to mislead the public
by claiming that education funding is at an all time high," continues Glen
Hansman. "Technically, there is truth to the assertion. However, teachers in
Vancouver know that this is all smoke and mirrors."
    "To compare dollar amounts over time one must take inflation into
account," argues Glen Hansman. "Yes, funding in BC is based on student
enrolment -- when enrolments decline, as they have over the last few years, so
do school board budgets. On the other hand, in current-year unadjusted
dollars, the amount paid per pupil has increased. And so have the costs of
education. Increases in such things as Hydro, pensions and MSP premiums,
transportation and salaries have not been fully funded."
    "When all of these factors - declining enrolment, increased costs, and
inflation - are taken into account, the answer is no, education funding has
not increased," he concludes.
    "Furthermore, while negotiated salary increases for teachers, support
staff, and principals do mean new funding for the K-12 education system, they
don't give rise to new funds districts can use to extend programs to students
or to address unmet needs within the system," says Glen Hansman. "When these
settlement-related costs are stripped away, actual funding levels are grim."
    "As we get closer to the provincial election, I expect that the premier
will be making all sorts of feel-good announcements," concludes Glen Hansman,
"but I doubt that he's going to get to the heart of the matter that will
produce real change for the betterment of kids."

    VESTA is local 391 of the British Columbia Teachers' Federation, and
represents the elementary teachers and adult educators in Vancouver.

For further information:

For further information: Glen Hansman, President, at (604) 813-5318
(cell), (604)873-8378 (office), or

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