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Province giving extra funding to private schools: BCTF

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC Teachers’ Federation is accusing the province of throwing extra money at private schools, while public schools are being told to save.

The BCTF says $5 million saved during last year’s teachers dispute is now being used to fund independent schools. The money, it claims, comes specifically out of the Labour Settlement Fund which was created when the strike ended last September.

President Jim Iker wants the government to change its mind and says he’ll bring it up with the minister responsible when the two attend the same event on Friday.

“Our system, currently, is underfunded by the tune of at least $1,000 per student, less than the Canadian average — almost second worst funding across Canada. This is just going to continue that and it’s time the province reverses the cuts, reverses this extra money going to independent schools and put that $5 million back to our public schools,” explains Iker.

“Public dollars should be going to public schools and not private schools. The issue has been the government says they don’t have the money and here’s an example of where they have money and it should be redirected to the public schools. I’m sure parents and the public are unhappy to see that. It’s great that we got the settlement and we need to ensure that all the settlement dollars go to the school districts so they can use that money. On top of that, I think it’s important the government recognize the increased costs to school districts,” adds Iker.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender wasn’t available for an interview on the matter but his office did issue a statement to News1130.

“Our government supports choice for parents and students whether that’s through public or independent schools. Regarding the recent claims by the BC Teachers’ Federation, President Jim Iker is completely wrong.

“Funding for independent schools is based on a well-established formula that has been in place in British Columbia for more than 25 years. This funding is based on student enrolment and a set percentage of either 50 or 35 per cent of per pupil funding provided to public schools.

“That formula has not changed as a result of the long-term agreement reached with the BCTF. The fact is, we’ve seen average per student funding for public schools increase by 40 per cent since 2000/01, to an estimated $8,819 for 2014-15 enrolment. We need to focus on student outcomes, not unnecessary and unhelpful distractions.”