New West school board to vote on climate literacy funding call

The New Westminster school board is pushing for more funding and support from the provincial government for climate literacy.

School board is set to vote Tuesday on whether or not to send a motion to the B.C. School Trustees’ Association’s provincial council.

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The motion calls on the BCSTA to advocate “the provincial government … to provide funding to support climate literacy in all B.C. schools.”

According to BCSTA bylaws, a motion can only go directly to the provincial council, rather than waiting for the annual general meeting, if waiting until the AGM would “impact negatively on the boards’ ability to influence public policy or a public education issue.”

The school district is arguing the motion should succeed in reaching the provincial council based on the urgency of the climate crisis.

The school district’s motion notes the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which urged world leaders to limit global warming to 1.5 C – a feat that would only be attainable through “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

“As boards of education, we have been hearing loud and clear from the student population in B.C. and across the globe about the urgency of our climate emergency,” the motion notes.

“While there is a proposal coming forward to creata climate action working group within the BCSTA, we need to urgently call on government to begin immediately supporting and funding district initiatives toward climate literacy.”

By making a call now, rather than waiting for the AGM, scheduled for mid-April, the BCSTA may also influence the budget process from the provincial government. The 2020/21 fiscal year or the province begins on April 1, meaning the budget should be passed by the end of March.

The school district notes that climate change is a provincial and global issue, far beyond individual school districts. By that token, it notes the districts shouldn’t be left on their own “overstretched operational budgets” to develop resources and professional development opportunities on climate literacy.

“This is an issue that impacts us all, and as such the provincial government should provide the direction and funding necessary to enable our students and staff to be climate literate,” the district wrote.

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