First MLA Marc Dalton blamed the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board for cutting school buses, even though his provincial government forced districts around the province to make budget cuts and cope with reduced funding.
Now that the province, following the approval of school district budgets, complete with forced “administrative savings,” is reimbursing districts, Dalton and his Liberal MLA partner Doug Bing are calling for school buses to be reinstated.
Maple Ridge school trustee Susan Carr feels, aptly, like she’s been run over by a school bus.
In recent years, the school board has been asked to do nothing but cut staff or services, totaling about $10 million, and had to dip into reserves.
Throughout the budget process this year, trustees met with parents who were angry and desperate for solutions to get their children to school next September, given that school buses were being cut to save $650,000.
Trustees made a regrettable decision to follow through with discontinuing school buses services, because it least affected classrooms. Trustees were doing what the province asked of them – find savings. If not, they faced the prospect of being fired.
Not much of a choice.
Now that the province is giving back $632,000 to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board, Dalton and Bing are advocating for school bus service to be continued.
Again, trustees seem to have little choice.
As Carr points out, given the previous public outcry, how would trustees look if they don’t put the money towards school buses?
The school board has responded that it will decide what to do with the one-time funding in a month. Trustees could deem other services more important than school buses. That should be their decision to make, free of pressure from our local MLAs, who did little to advocate for school buses during the district budget process, other than blame trustees and make erroneous claims about increases in per-pupil funding.
Maybe Victoria wants to run school boards?
If not, then get out of the way.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News