BCCPAC Survey on One Time Funding Process

BCCPAC seeks feedback from PACs and DPACs on their involvement in deciding how to spend the Ministry’s grants of $50 per student per school and school district. Feel free to share.

On December 8, 2005 the Ministry of Education announced that grants of $50 per FTE student would be distributed in schools and districts throughout the province:

“The Province will provide one-time funding of $50 per student for each public school. In addition, all 60 school districts will receive one-time funding of $50 per school-aged student. Schools and districts will work with education partners to decide how to spend the funding”
– Ministry of Education News Release, “Province Provides $126M for Education from Savings”, December 9, 2005

The objective of the BCCPAC survey is to collect data on the consultation process that took place, which involved parents from across the province. This data will be used as an important reference tool for future discussions with provincial Education Partners.


A Mad Way to Spend Money

Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Catherine Evans, Chair, BC Society for Public Education

“March Madness” struck early this year in every public school and school district in the province. All are scrambling to spend $56 million before the province closes its books on March 31. This money, clawed back in November as savings from the teachers’ job action, was quietly made available a week before classes ended in December on condition that spending plans be submitted by January 10 and the money actually spent by March 31.

Even in an age of instant communication, it takes time to sort out this kind of announcement. For schools – on holidays for half the time available – there were really only four days in January to draw up plans and get them to the districts. Parent participation within this timeframe – a supposed requirement of the government’s action – was next to impossible.

In Victoria, this kind of frenzied behavior is usually confined to late in the fiscal year when ministries know whether or not they have leftover funds. It’s the crazy way government budgets work – hence “March Madness.”

The Ministry of Education already knows it has extra cash – lots of it – courtesy of the salaries that teachers and others gave up to make a point. Unfortunately many the items schools most urgently need cannot be paid for with this money. The one-time nature of the money coupled with the short timeframe means that it cannot be used for seismic upgrades, new playgrounds, or salaries for any of the people that are in short supply, e.g., teacher-librarians, special education assistants, and playground supervisors.

So how will the money be used? The intent is that most of it will go to textbooks, learning materials, computers and library books. These are very necessary and very expensive. In fact, pent-up demand from more than 12 years of budget constraint could easily absorb many more millions in spending.

But is throwing one-time, short-term money at schools really a good way to run a healthy school system? Most would say, and I would be forced to agree, that having this money is better than not having it. But are they also saying that schools only get money to buy books when there is unexpected cash available? What happened to long-term, stable funding that allows schools to purchase new textbooks and other resources in an orderly and predictable manner? Teachers should not have to strike in order for students to have books. Our students deserve better.

BC Society for Public Education

Southland PAC Comments on “Parachute” Funding

Extract from letter to Colin Hansen from Southlands PAC. The bulk of the letter is a follow-up to Colin Hansen’s visit with the PAC. The section quoted is only that dealing with the one time funding.

“Since our meeting, we do note that the Minister is honouring her commitment to keep the school strike savings in the education system. We certainly agree this is where the funds belong but have, frankly, scrambled to meet the requirement for consultation among parents and others within the confines of an extremely tight deadline.

This type of “parachute” funding is an example of a critical flaw that seems to have become routine for public education in British Columbia. [emphasis added] A series of special funding “announcements” does not reflect our stated concern that it is difficult, if not impossible, to conceive and implement long-term plans and goals without, on balance, long-term, stable funding. One-time grants and “saved” funds may ease certain deficiencies in classrooms but do little to eradicate the systemic problems leading to these deficiencies. After years of eroded services and resources, combined with higher costs, many children’s needs are still unable to be met.

Please reiterate to the Minister that we need the Government and Ministry staff to allocate, on a long-term basis, adequate, sustainable and proactive funding because we know funding reactively does not serve our children well. While all of us are committed to investing in the future of British Columbia, we will not be making good decisions if we see public education, and our children, as short-term expenditures.

We look forward to seeing a willingness on the part of Government to make this investment, at which point we will happily assure concerned parents that their stated commitment to a quality public education system is well founded and their tax dollars are well spent.”

Download full text of letter.