EDITORIAL: Playing politics

Parksville Qualicum Beach school district has classroom space for 6,000 students, but staff doesn't see numbers reaching even 4,500

For a District 69 school board trustee, these are not the best of times.

They are facing a budget deficit of more than $2 million and no degree of yelling at the provincial government is going to change that challenge.

And before they stomp their feet and cry foul with the B.C. Liberals for playing politics with the education of children, they might be wise to have a long look in the mirror.

The funding formula for schools is flawed, of that there’s no doubt. It’s early days of the new government in Victoria, but it seems Premier Christy Clark’s priority is to pick another fight with teachers by taking collective bargaining out of the hands of the body that represents trustees and by once again floating the 10-year contract balloon.

Teachers, or at least their union leadership, seem to always align themselves with the NDP. Politics is bloodsport and groups can pay dearly for backing the wrong horse, but it’s children we’re talking about here.

We get all that. However, local school board trustees have painted themselves into a corner with their own political games.

The 2011 school board election here was all about possible school closures, specifically Kwalikum Senior Secondary. Those who championed the cause to keep the school open were favoured by the electorate.

Fair enough, but what now? School District 69’s own numbers are grim when it comes to enrolment and open space in the schools.

This district has classroom space for 6,000 students, but staff projections don’t see enrolment numbers reaching even 4,500 in the foreseeable future.

One can save only so much money changing to efficient copy machines.

We’re not saying schools have to close, but if that was the logical, responsible choice in order to safeguard the learning experience of the current and future student population, would trustees here have the courage to do the right thing, or have they painted themselves in a political corner by riding the passion of the KSS closure issue into office in 2011?

If that is the case, who’s playing politics now?

— Editorial by John Harding

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