News Views: Placing blame

Liberal MLA Marc Dalton wants voters in his Maple Ridge-Mission riding to know that cutting school buses is a local decision.

Liberal MLA Marc Dalton wants voters in his Maple Ridge-Mission riding to know that cutting school buses is a local decision, made by school board trustees, not the provincial government.

As a former teacher in the district, he wants  parents to know he understands their concerns about losing transportation services next fall. He’s even met with the Minister of Education, Mike Bernier, to express those concerns, so he wrote in a letter for publication.

Dalton also points out that the school district is estimated to receive $8,474 per student for the coming year, “a 48 per cent increase since 2001,” and that the total for 2016/17 is more than $122 million – “a historic high.”

All that, he claims, “despite a decline in student numbers compared to a few years ago.”

He fails to mention, however, that enrolment in the district went up this year by 400 students.

More students, more money.

Dalton also neglected to note that his Liberal government asked the local school board to find $1.35 million in savings for the coming year, in addition to the $8 million and 70 positions trustees cut in the two previous budgets, or if expenses have increased.

Dalton points out that transportation money was rolled into a block amount in 2012, to allow districts more flexibility for their own priorities.

They now receive “Student Location Factor funding, which is based on enrolment and school-age population density, as well as the unique characteristics of each district, such as geographic challenges and unique student needs.”

For that, the local school district is receiving $1.6 million. We’re not sure what portion of that is going to transportation for students with disabilities, but the district is not cutting busing for them.

Cutting busing in rural areas for 370 other students will save $650,000. The district tapped into its reserves to cover much of the remaining amount it was asked to cut. The district also points out that, after expenses, per pupil funding is now less than it was 13 years ago.

We’d just like to point out, for all those parents still trying to figure out how to get their children to school next fall, how helpful the information provided by the MLA has been.

Because, in his words: “It is important to understand that budgetary decisions, including school bus transportation, are made at the local level by our district’s school board after consultation with the public.”

So it’s not his fault.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News