EDITORIAL: Where’s the hidden cash?

School trustees across B.C., including those in School District 34, must be scratching their heads ...

School trustees across B.C., including those in School District 34, must be scratching their heads at their premier’s apparent lack of awareness about what’s going on in their schools and administration offices.

Last week, Christy Clark suggested school boards grab a step-ladder and start picking some “low-hanging fruit,” to the tune of nearly $54 million over the next two years from district administrative costs.

Later, Education Minister Peter Fassbender clarified that districts must find efficiencies to get administrative costs down to six per cent, where they were 10 years ago, which requires 0.5 per cent savings this year and one per cent the year after.

While there is a concern that trimming administrative costs will eat up valuable dollars that must go to the classroom, the province should lead the way by showing where this cost-cutting should be made.

BC School Trustees’ Association president Teresa Rezansoff has been quoted as saying that  Clark’s comments ignore the fact that school districts are already working together to save money and have been doing so for years.

Among the ideas being touted is converting school board meetings to a paperless model and moving professional development workshops outside school hours, thereby saving in substitute teaching costs.

Bulk buying, sharing services — many of these measures have been tried with more or less success, depending on the district and the circumstances. One area that has been discussed is the high cost of legal services. CUPE has argued the district could do more to cut arbitration costs but clamping down on legal charges has been difficult given the large number of Freedom of Information requests, and districts are also paying higher legal fees to resolve student-related issues.

Everyone hates waste but instead of making off-the-cuff comments, would the premier please show school boards exactly where the hidden cache of cash is located?

– Black Press