Re: Setting Liberal facts right, Letters, The Record, May 3.
Bruce McCloy's passion for education (funding) is laudable. His use of selective facts undermines his case.
The two largest provincial expenditures are: health care ($18 billion) and education ($12 billion), 71 per cent of $42 billion total spending. These two priorities will be 90 per cent of spending by 2023. Not much left over for anything else. Educational expenditures have increased the equivalent of 4.3 per cent annually since 2001, while we have experienced a 60,000 decrease in student population.
When the Great Recession and the decrease in natural resources royalties clobbered government revenues of $11 billion from 2008 to 2012, four successive deficits were incurred. There was no decrease in health care spending and education funding increased each of those four years.
Total provincial spending average is $8,600 per student; 20 different spending allocations vary the per capita rate between 60 school districts. In New West, total school district spending is about $54 million. That's $7,600 to $9,300 per student depending on how full-time student levels are calculated. I use $8,100 per student. That is before capital spending. Taxpayers, the only funding source, pay operational and all other spending.
Ninety-eight per cent of provincewide classrooms have 30 students or less; 94 per cent are 28 students or less. Those above 28 are football, gym and choir practise. For a class size of 28, at $8,100 to $8,600 per student, the taxpayers inject almost a quarter million dollars into each classroom. Teacher McCloy cannot tell us where the money went; or what the taxpayers got for their largesse. Only that they need to come up 'more, more, more.' Hint: 50 per cent goes into districts overheads.
From 2001 to 2012, New West School District #40, received an additional $5.5 million in capital funds. Two new schools are scheduled to be built and a third, the high school, might eventually be built. About 90 per cent of district expenses are wages; group benefits and pension contributions. Defined pension benefit plans, nothing but the best, guaranteed by the taxpayers. At a recent all-candidates meeting, one of the leftie teachers refused to state what reading level highschool graduates should be at or what private sector benefit and pension plan they would prefer instead.
The district has failed to meet its budget targets seven out of the last 10 years. The latest go-around lays off 117 people. This is disgraceful. The board is incompetently led; conflicts of interest abound. Yet Mr. McCloy cannot find the moral spine to hold it accountable or replace it.
If the district had an unlimited budget, this board would exceed it by the end of the fiscal year!
In a democracy, elected officials are - or should be - accountable to the voters. Mr. McCloy has chosen instead to be accountable to the board. He wants to remove the phantom problem, the B.C. Liberal government education spending record, but has become the problem itself: a fawning, uncritical supporter of decades old incompetence and incapacity.
Alan McNulty, New Westminster