To the editor,
Pictou Centre MLA Ross Landry’s attempt to sell the NDP government’s education-funding epiphany as reason to rejoice (“Striving to make schools the best they can,” Feb. 23 issue) falls flat, I’m afraid. Perhaps Mr. Landry’s letter to the editor would inspire more confidence if there actually was any good news to herald for the students of Pictou County.
Yes, overall funding to school boards in the province will increase by about $3.3 million next year. What he conveniently failed to mention was that the budget for Chignecto-Central Regional School Board will decrease by $182,000. That doesn’t take into account inflationary cost pressures. Some news media outlets have reported that this time, the province will give school boards extra money to cover salary increases. In a letter sent to staff last week, CCRSB Superintendent Gary Clarke said the school boards will actually have to cover the first one per cent of wage increases with the province absorbing anything beyond that. Clarke estimates that will cost the school board an extra $1.4 million next year, in addition to the $182,000 decrease. Regardless of who’s correct on the wage issue, school boards will still be on the hook for increases in fuel, heating oil, and electricity bills.
The bottom line is that there are more cuts coming for Pictou County students. Mr. Landry writes encouragingly about more teachers, educational assistants, and other support staff being hired. What he doesn’t mention is that none of those additional resources will be coming into our schools unless CCRSB cuts something else. It’s hard to feel positive about a promise of more staff knowing it would come at the cost of, say, French immersion, phys. ed., or what little remains of library services.
The next time Mr. Landry puts on his rose-coloured glasses to verbally pat his government on the back, perhaps he should first take a look through those lenses to see who it is he’s addressing. He might choose to direct his comments at a region that will actually benefit from the decisions he’s extolling.