Needs budget indeed a ‘wish list’

Re: Needs budget seems needless (Our View, May 29)

Re: Needs budget seems needless (Our View, May 29)

The so-called “needs budget” submitted by Greater Victoria School District trustees seems needless because it is not a genuine needs budget. The budget was created by asking department administrators for their wish list items.

It is a shame that this process was used and the term “needs budget” attached to it.

A genuine needs budget stems from an assessment of the needs of students and schools to provide a quality education to the district’s 19,000 students.

By this criteria, our school district is sorely underfunded.

The first “needs” budget letter sent by Greater Victoria trustees was a “restoration budget.” It analyzed all the staff and services lost to cuts in the previous 20 years – back to 1991. In that time period, seven schools have closed and more than 350 teaching and staff positions have been cut.

The result? The needs of a child with autism, who only receives educational assistance support for 15 hours a week rather than full time, are not being met.

The needs of an elementary student struggling through a parent divorce who can only see a counselor on a Monday, are not being met. The needs of a child waiting for a psycho-educational assessment for years and years are not being met. The needs of a school that must fundraise to stock an earthquake kit are not being met.

My list could go on.

Greater Victoria trustees do need to send a message to the province about sadly inadequate funding, but they should do that with a genuine assessment of student needs.

And by the way, this is not a “motherhood” issue. All of society will be paying for children who fail to succeed because our schools have insufficient resources to provide them a quality education.

Tara Ehrcke, president

Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association