Editorial: Put pupils first in school budget

Trustees are brainstorming, but unfortunately it takes a lot of nickels and dimes to dent a multimillion-dollar shortfall.

School district budgeting isn’t just about addition and subtraction – it takes some seriously advanced mathematics.

The Nanaimo school district’s preliminary budget, tabled this month, calculated a nightmarish shortfall of $5.4 million. There won’t be any easy choices – trustees basically have to decide between doling out disappointment or dismay. Right away, the board served notice it will consider cutting not only teachers and support staff, but also administrators and trustees, a signal that the pain could be shared equitably.

B.C. has 60 school districts dealing with similar issues and a lot of trustees brainstorming, but unfortunately it takes a lot of nickels and dimes to dent a multimillion-dollar shortfall. Public education is underfunded, but at the same time, throwing money at the problem can only do so much. We need restraint, flexibility and creativity.

We all have our fond or not-so-fond memories of how school used to be back in the old days. Times have changed. Cities have sprawled, families are smaller, students live farther apart, enrolment has declined and for all those reasons, education can’t be delivered with the same economies of scale.

It’s frustrating, during budget time, to talk in terms of ‘delivery of education’ when schools do infinitely more. They’re about interactions and friendships, life lessons, achievement and growth. They’re places to pursue hobbies and interests, arts and culture, sports and recreation. They’re libraries, daycares, hangouts. They must continue to be all of these things.

As the board balances its books, children must be the first consideration and we trust that they will be.

And things will turn out OK. Pupils can handle dog-eared textbooks, outdated computers, long bus rides and occasional gaps in supervision. Kids are tough and they’ll accept school for what it is. We need to be tough, too – suffer these cuts, if we must, and no matter what, never stop teaching, challenging and engaging our kids.

Just Posted

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Laid-off Casino Nanaimo workers launch class-action lawsuit against corporation

Notice of civil claim filed on April 6 at Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo

Beban Pool is expected to re-open Oct. 4 after a vote by councillors at a finance and audit committee meeting Wednesday, June 16. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo will re-open Beban Pool in October

User groups warn COVID-19 pool closures have left a gap in water safety education

Beef to the lady who went onto my property then proceeded to take my large plant from my home. I found out and asked for it returned. You said I was dramatic? You should be ashamed of yourself.
Beefs & Bouquets, June 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts’s body was discovered near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens between Port Alberni and Tofino

Multi-vehicle accident temporarily closed highway in both directions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-staff as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Most Read