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School district budget woes prompts discussion about funding formula

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The news these days is filled with bad news about BC’s school districts.

From trustees refusing to vote in favour of a balanced budget in Vancouver to trustees voting to close the one and only high school in Osoyoos, districts are having to make difficult budget decisions.

Since 2001, funding has been based on student enrolment – which means hardships for districts like Vancouver and the Southern Okanagan with declining enrolment.

Michelle Stack at UBC’s Department of Educational Studies says it is time to reassess how the province doles out money.

“I think there are complex needs in schools. I think there are needs for new technology and funding for special education. If we are sincere about reconciliation, we need to be funding aboriginal education.”

And she points out some costs increase yearly despite declining enrolment.

“Costs like electricity, MSP premiums and unfunded salary increases have been downloaded onto the districts.”

In an ideal world, Stack says, funding would also cover social workers and meals for the most vulnerable students.

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