Steve Rae, Nanaimo school board chairman, says proposed changes to B.C.’s School Act are a smokescreen for the underfunding of education.
According to the Ministry of Education, proposals in Bill 11, the Education Statutes Amendment Act, include one that would give boards “clear authority to enter into shared service or alternative service delivery agreements with other boards or public sector entities.”
Education Minister Peter Fassbender would also be afforded the power to instruct boards to take part in “specific service delivery arrangements.”
The school district is facing a $4.5-million shortfall and has written the ministry asking it to address funding concerns.
Rae said he isn’t against sharing services, but ultimately, more dollars are needed from the provincial government.
“I’m all for consolidating services if it makes sense, but to me all they’re is doing is trying to take everybody’s eyes off the ball,” Rae said.
“The fact is the provincial government continues to underfund education.”
“So everybody complains and look what happens. They threaten to take the powers away from the school boards,” said Rae.
The district hasn’t discussed agreements with other districts yet, but there will be an opportunity at the B.C. School Trustees Association conference in April, according to Rae.
“It will be interesting to see what all the other districts in the province, how they feel about this. The timing is perfect,” Rae said.
The ministry, for its part, said it is about prudent spending.
“Taxpayers also expect their dollars to be used wisely and that every available dollar is going to help children in the classroom. With 60 school districts, there are many opportunities for shared services,” Fassbender said in a press release.