Jeremy Deutsch / Tri-Cities Now
June 11, 2014 12:00 AM
It’s no doubt a busy time for Education Minister Peter Fassbender, who’s dealing with the government’s labour dispute with teachers, but School District 43 is hoping he’ll reconsider missing a meeting with a number of local groups to talk about funding.
Last month, the district, along with a number of related groups, requested a meeting with Fassbender to discuss the deficit situation in School District 43 and to advocate for more funding.
The groups requesting the meeting included the Coquitlam Teachers’ Association, District Parent Advisory Council, CUPE Local 561, and the Coquitlam Principals’ and Vice Principals’ Association.
However, the minister declined to meet with the group, sending ministry staff in his place.
School board chair Melissa Hyndes called Fassbender’s decision “quite disappointing,” noting the response informing the district that Fassbender wouldn’t attend didn’t even come directly from the minister.
She argued it’s important for the minister to directly hear the group’s concerns, pointing out the district already regularly meets with ministry staff.
“We want the ear of the minister to be able to talk about our concerns about the funding in public education,” Hyndes told the Tri-Cities NOW.
District representatives have offered to meet in Victoria, but without the minister, Hyndes said she doesn’t see any point in going.
The district has sent a second letter urging the minister to reconsider.
The district has had repeated budget deficits in recent years, including a $13.4-million shortfall for the 2014-15 school year.
Hyndes noted as part of budget discussions, the district pledged to advocate with various groups for more funding.
“We believe in Coquitlam there is something fundamentally wrong with the funding formula in the province and we want to see that change is going to happen,” she said, adding she’s hoping to see some changes for the next school year.
Fassbender’s response was also disappointing for one provincial politician.
Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson argued the minister needs to hear that there isn’t enough funding in the system and how that is impacting the district.
“These are people who deal directly with the challenging budget deficit in the community, and they need to talk to the minister – the decision maker – and he won’t give them the time of day,” she said.
“This isn’t leadership. This isn’t taking care of our students.”
Robinson also intends to send a letter to the minister, urging him to meet with the district.
Meanwhile, rotating job action will have Tri-Cities schools closed again on Friday, June 13.
© Tri-Cities Now