Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Min. of Edu. News Release Special Report by Susan Semonick

(Susan Semonick is a previous DPAC President and a community activist working for the betterment of the Langley School District- EDITOR-LFP)

Here is a news release from the Ministry of Education(MoE) and a backgrounder.

I haven't had much time to go over these numbers in depth yet. However, having taken a brief glance at them, one thing just stands out in blinking lights. While Langley School District has the eighth highest enrolment, it received the fourth highest allocation for Teachers on Call - over 250% more than Abbotsford which is very similar in enrolment and over 500% more than Richmond which has only a 20% higher enrolment.

Clearly, things have been unbalanced in terms of TOCs (teachers on call) - as the Langley Teachers' Association have said for years. The implications are daunting. The MoE will not continue provide additional funds to alleviate inequities across the province in terms of salary. The district number crunchers have known about this Ready decision for a while now. While there have been indications that there is some reorganization within the district, I have yet to see where reduction in staffing or more effective use of staff has or will result in a reduction in staffing costs which constitute the majority of the district's budget.

As much as our local trustees lament the effect of declining enrolment, Langley School District is not as hard hit as most other districts. Three districts had increased enrolments since 2005/06. The provincial average decline in enrolment is just over 2% while Langley is 1.63% from the previous school year. One district had a decline of 9%, while Abbotsford had a decline of 2.88%.

As I continue to say, the district needs to look hard at all areas outside of the classroom, starting with its own backyard. A reduction of two trustees seats is not just a one time savings but over five years is an estimated half a million dollars.There are many other places to cut which I will identify over the course of the next few months before budget consultations occur.

In the meantime, I suggest that those who are interested attend the next School Board meeting as well as the next Annual General meeting of the School District Business Company (SDBC) which will be held on January 18th at the SBO at 4:30 pm. The SDBC is another white elephant that needs to be looked at with a critical eye.

At a glance the final numbers.....The base per pupil funding is far less than $7000.00. The MoE tends to put the most favourable spin on things for them, sound familiar.

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