VSB urged to take drastic measures to deal with budget shortfall

Teachers and support staff were among those on hand at a Vancouver School Board meeting Monday night to discuss ways to deal with a $25-million budget shortfall.

A $2.5-million funding increase announced by the Ministry of Education still leaves the board in a position where there are plans to cut special education programs, teaching positions and band and strings classes.

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“Sadly, right now the infusion of money isn’t going to enhancing the educational experience of students in Vancouver,” said Dan Graves of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association. “All it’s doing is making the cuts a little less deep, a little less hurtful. ”

READ MORE: VSB budget crunch means no easy solutions at overcapacity school

Many stakeholders have told the board they want trustees to make a drastic move.

“The only option that the board really has is to put forward a deficit budget,” said Warren Williams of CUPE Local 15.

Graves suggested the board needs to consider “passing a budget that’s not balanced, but one that will actually meet the needs of students in Vancouver.”

READ MORE: VSB votes unanimously in favour of plan that could lead to multiple school closures

That’s exactly what trustees did in 1984. They were then fired by the provincial government of the day.

Vancouver School Board Chair Mike Lombardi said he is willing to lose his job if that’s what it takes.

“Unless something dramatic happens I will be voting against the budget,” he said. “I am one vote amongst nine and we need a 5-4 vote to pass the budget but I see no reason to pass a budget which is going to make life difficult for our families and our kids. ”

– With files from Jill Bennett