Chair takes swipe at BC Liberals before Burnaby school board OKs $269M budget

The Burnaby school board unanimously passed a $269-million preliminary 2016/17 budget Monday that includes no anticipated cuts, but not before chair Ron Burton took a swipe at the B.C. Liberal government for its education spending.

“This government likes to announce good news, and they say they’re going to fund the (teacher and support staff labour) settlement of $62 million, which they did, but what they don’t tell you is that they then take out $54 million in administrative savings, thereby underfunding the system,” Burton said at the public meeting. “They continue to do shell games like this. They did it with the Compass Card and the seniors, where they gave out money and then take it away. And I don’t think that’s recognized enough in the public.”

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The preliminary budget projects a nearly $4.5 million operating shortfall next year. That gap, along with a new $750,000 international education reserve, which the board has decided to set aside in case of sudden unforeseen changes in international enrolment, will be covered by the district’s $6.4 million in unrestricted reserves.

But the $1.2 million unrestricted reserve fund the district will be left with after that will be nothing to celebrate, according to Burton.

“Because we have a surplus, it seems like it’s good and we become complacent when we should be trying to build the system into something better,” Burton said, adding the provincial government’s funding of education was a source of frustration voiced at a recent annual general meeting of the B.C. School Trustees Association.

To see the full 2016/17 preliminary budget, visit sd41.bc.ca and click on Budget & Policies under the Board tab.

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