Victoria Coun. Isitt right to question Glenlyon tax status

Public school trustee argues against tax breaks for independent schools

Re: Tax break irks neighbour (News, May 4)

Thanks to Bill Sudds and Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt for speaking out on tax breaks for private schools. Yes, Glenlyon is only one school, as Coun. Marianne Alto says, but it is an example of systemic injustice.

Glenlyon Norfolk is hardly a “public good.” It’s a universe of screened-entry small classes for those who can afford it.

For most of us, it’s an exclusive enclave that our children and grandchildren will never benefit from (though many of us would rather be part of the non-exclusive welcome that public education provides).

We’re all subsidizing playing fields for this “charity of the wealthy” while many public school parents struggle with fundraising to buy playground equipment. And as Coun. Isitt pointed out, we all subsidize those $16,040 tuition fees for schools we cannot afford to send our own kids to.

Tax dollars given to independent schools increased by 2.8 per cent in 2011-12, while many public school districts run ongoing structural deficits of millions of dollars because of shortfalls in funding.

Over the last 10 years the public school system has lost about $3 billion in funding. Meanwhile, over 2008-09, the B.C. government provided $217 million to independent schools. In 2010 the B.C. School Trustees Association passed the Cowichan School Board’s resolution to “request the Ministry of Education to redirect to the public education system the public money spent on independent schools, other than band schools.”

As a trustee on the School District 61 Board of Education, I commend the BCSTA for this stand. Trying to move the current British Columbia government away from the ‘public bad, private good” mindset is a continual struggle. We need to have this discussion in a very public way.

Diane McNally

Victoria