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SD 61 chair condemns proposed budget cuts

The chair of the Greater Victoria school board has spoken out against more cuts to B.C.’s education budget.

In a Dec. 17 letter Peg Orcherton asked Education Minister Don McRae to reconsider his Dec. 3 request for all school boards in the province to slash 1.5 per cent savings from their current budget in order to reach a collective agreement with K-12 support staff under the co-operative gains mandate. The additional 1.5 per cent equates to $507,000.

Orcherton said the plan would negatively impact the delivery of education programs for students.

“Minister McRae, let me assure you that if there were savings to be had, we would be using them to support student learning in classrooms,” Orcherton wrote. … I know the staff and the School District and let me assure you that every person contributes to the service levels to our public. Nobody who works in the Greater Victoria School District is superfluous to our needs.”

Minister McRae acknowledged finding the savings would be difficult in some cases and expects to see plans varied at boards across the province. To assist in the process, district superintendents and secretary-treasurers will be in touch with boards this week. The ministry hopes to see the savings plans completed by mid-January.

School trustee Deborah Nohr expressed outrage at the request to what she described as the government’s reckless economic policies and in an email to members of the media, called the plan a deliberate, systematic and willful underfunding of public education.

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