Education cuts looming

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Group says if province doesnt up funding, cost would be the equivalent of eliminating Grade 2

TRURO - The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board could be looking at some serious cuts if the province doesn't agree to increase funding for public education by at least 3.6 per cent later this spring.

A group of educational leaders from across the province has launched a public campaign aimed at pressuring the provincial government to remember education when it sets its budget for 2010-11.
"The last few years we've cut so much that there's no place left to cut. If we don't get that money, there'll be more teachers going out the door that what we will already have to cut because of declining enrolment," board superintendent Noel Hurley said Friday.
"If we cut much more we're in danger of falling behind in student learning."
The Education Partners Group, comprised of members of the teachers union, home and school and school boards associations, and school administrators, said not increasing funding would result in the loss of 800 teaching jobs across the province, larger class sizes, fewer supplies, school closures and program cuts.
It equates the losses to cutting Grade 2 out of the school system. Hence, they have named their campaign Save Grade 2 (www.SaveGrade2.com).
While consultants Deloitte and Touche have suggested a five per cent increase is needed, Hurley said the 3.6 per cent being asked for by educators would only maintain the status quo. For Chignecto-Central, where enrolment is continuing to drop, that would still mean teacher layoffs.
"If we lose 500 students, that would mean a loss of about 20 teachers," Hurley said. "If we got the money we're looking for, we would still be losing teachers. The status quo just means keeping the things we've got, less the teachers we would lose."
For the most part, Nova Scotia has a strong education system. Canada sits in second in the world and Nova Scotia is eighth in the country and 14th in the world, according to a Program of International Student Assessment study.
"We're doing things well with great teachers," he said. "Around here we've done so much with so little for so long we're qualified now to do almost anything with nothing."
Hurley, who is also president of the Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators, said the group is not pushing the province for anything above the 3.6 per cent because it, too, knows the present fiscal situation.
However, he added, as much as the province wants to avoid deficit financing, it's a different case when it comes to educating Nova Scotia's children.
"I can see not deficit financing for my health expenditures because I'm not going to be around to pay it off, but if we do deficit financing for education the ones who will pay off that deficit are benefitting from it because they'll be more educated," said Hurley. "In many countries, education is seen as a way out of the economic malaise and in the long term it's a way to grow our economy."
He suggested a one per cent increase in the HST earmarked for education could make a huge difference in supporting public education.
dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Central Regional School Board, Education Partners Group, Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators

Geographic location: Chignecto, Nova Scotia, Canada

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Recent comments

  • marcus robichaud
    February 26, 2010 - 13:26

    The way I see things is that if we even knew how or what the school board was spending money on in the first place we could probably come up with something of a solution, but its browbeating to try and gain access to all the figures as an average person. We should be able to have access to hard figures as average people on what our government is spending , and where they are spending it so we can as citizens make educated suggestions on just how the budget can be manipulated to ease financial strain on its resources. No matter how much money you throw in a pocket there’s really no point if you don’t know where the hole is or how big that hole could possibly be.

  • peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Do not raise taxes to pay for this increase. Everyone says that the provincial government needs to hold the line on spending. This means all need to hold the line including teachers and school boards. The hospital workers should have been made to limit their wage increases as well.

    Same old story, every body but me. I live on a fixed income and cannot bled much more in the way of tax increased.

  • Huge
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    How come whenever we hear from the school board, they always reduce the number of teachers and calssrom resources - but yet never reduce their management and bureaucratic expence.

    We're headed for a situaiton like the dept of fisheries where there are more civil servants than actual fishermen fisherpersons lol

    Its all rich.