Surrey School District addresses $9.53 million dollar shortfall by cutting 6 full school days from the calender

Education : the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

Key words?  “Preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life ”

I am a firm believer that educating children properly in schools AND at home, is one of the keys to a successful and functioning society. In some countries around the world, education is considered so important that post-secondary schooling is free to those who wish to access it.

Here in Surrey, a city with some of the poorest neighbourhoods in all of BC ( Whalley, Newton) and thousands of at-risk kids, a proper education is crucial  to thousands of kids at risk of falling through the cracks and becoming lost to society- perhaps forever.

School is often the only place where  many of these kids are exposed to positive role models,where they are safe for a few hours,where they have a chance to succeed.

The Surrey school district is facing a massive budget shortfall: $9.53 million dollars.  According to the district website, this is attributed to a combination of factors including the recession as well as a  corresponding drop in international student enrollment . Apparently those foreign students are quite the money maker for Surreys school system.

Now, in an effort to handle that budget shortfall, the district has decided to cut 6 full days from the school calender, in addition to the 6 days already dedicated to Pro-D days.

While they say that no actual instruction time will be lost because they are adding 11 minutes to each school day, I call FOUL!

In an excerpt from the letter sent home to parents, (*http://www.sd36.bc.ca/general/news/2009/budget/ParentLetter-seco.pdf), it  states :

“The board anticipates significant cost savings from these proposed calendar changes, as the school district currently spends more than $100,000 each day to replace absent teaching and non-teaching staff. There will be further savings resulting from decreased energy costs (transportation, heat, light) during the six days when schools are not providing regular service.”

Personally, I think there is something wrong with the rationale that says adding 11 minutes to each day somehow makes up for the loss of 6 full days. Please explain to me what a teacher can realistically expect to accomplish in those 11 minutes( which works out to about an extra 3 minutes per block in highschool), versus one entire day of class rotation where 3 or 4 different subjects receive a full block of time ?

Do they really expect us to swallow this nonsense?And I’m so glad that they are pointing out how much these 6 lost days are going to save us on transportation, heat and lights! AS if.

It’s time this Premier to put the money where his mouth is. If he truly intends to ” Keep BC Strong”, he can re-direct some funds over to the Education Ministry for disbursement to districts with shortfalls so that BC’s future workers aren’t being punished by this loss. From the record amounts being spent on the Olympic preparations, I would think there should be some funds sitting somewhere that can be snagged for something a little more high priority than a party.

And I would urge the school districts to re-examine their profit ventures to avoid relying on foreign student enrollment as the major source of non-ministry income. How a $9.53 budget shortfall was not addressed earlier, is beyond me.

The worst part is that I fear many parents in Surrey are not aware this is even happening, because letters were sent home with children in most schools, and as any parents know, notices sent home with kids,often get “lost”. If you are a Surrey resident with children in school, I urge you to read the notices and budget brief on the district website,

http://www.sd36.bc.ca/general/news/2009/budget-feedback.html , and send your feedback in before the budget approval meeting on May 28th- next Thursday. Education is an essential building block to opening a child’s world to endless opportunities.

 Thinking back to when I was growing up in northern BC,( where getting on at a local mill, or getting married and being a wife was what most kids did after highschool) I can clearly point to several teachers who saw in me a depth of passionate,insatiable curiosity, and encouraged the development of my education and interests. These teachers were not only my educators,but also mentors, counsellors, and occasionally – my friends.

There were a few teachers that really stand out for me, even now. These were teachers that went beyond merely spoon-feeding students the curriculum, they encouraged us to debate and question what was being taught. They welcomed debate, pushed for visionary, creative thinking, and saw in myself  talents that were nurtured and guided in much the way I wish my parents had. I credit these teachers with instilling in me the belief that I could do something with my life, that I did matter, and that everyone is capable of changing the world.

That is what a good teacher, a good education can do. Schools are far more than learning centres for many kids with dysfunctional homes. They are a refuge where for a few hours, teachers can, and often do, make the difference that changes the course of a child’s life forever, and we must not take one day of that opportunity for any child,or any teenager.

This is the importance of an education. It becomes an actual part of the person doing the learning, and beings to transform that child as it continues. Who has not seen that spark of recognition in a child’s eyes? That magical “Ah ha !” moment treasured by both the student and the teacher. It brings with it not only joy, curiosity and confidence, but also the acceptance of a new responsibility that comes with it. And this, my friends, is priceless.

12 thoughts on “Surrey School District addresses $9.53 million dollar shortfall by cutting 6 full school days from the calender

  1. salvatore bennedetto

    9.53 million. that is quite figure. What percentage of that overrun is teachers wages? Why not get rid of the “professional days” instead of adding minutes to the day. I have yet to see my neighbour, a teacher anywhere near a school on those so called professional development days.

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    1. Laila

      Good call – my sentiments exactly. Apparently though, Sal,the teachers tell my kids that they are very busy all day long on those days, taking workshops, having meetings, blah blah blah. Perhaps I should start a facebook group called Axe the PRO-D day.. or something like that.

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  2. salvatore bennedetto

    I got some moist land in Florida for those that believe that malarky. Some do but it is not mandatory attendance. there is also the teachers that do not instruct, but give big amounts of homework to kids. If you are going to teach, then teach and not expect the kid to learn it by himself at home on his time off. It burns the kids out. All day in school and then hours after supper again.

    It may be time to rethink the two months holiday at the end of the year to. Originally that was to give parents the use of kids to help with farming. do they really need two months off every summer?

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    1. Laila

      Might be nice Beer, but someone with rather large stick up their butt decided it was too unsafe – hence no more (home) bake sales, no more hotdogs, no more fun. Nothing can be prepared by mothers. Anal much?

      Sal, my daughter tells me Pro-D days are only mandatory for department heads. Not all teachers. YES YES !!!!! Get rid of Pro-D days. I’m going to send a letter off to the editor.

      Mary,pictures are forthcoming. And she says thank you very much. She ( and I) are very excited. Not to mention my good old Dad from PG is here.

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  3. I cherish the memory of a caller to Dan Russell’s Sportstalk one night some years back who was breaking down what he’d seen at the Canuck’s training camp in Whistler that day.
    After a bit, Dan asked him what he did for a living that he was able to spend the day up there watching camp on a Monday.
    “Oh, I’m a teacher”, came the reply, “It was a pro-D day.” hahaha ….
    The education system in BC costs a million dollars a day, yet there are no books in the library in our local high school. Where does all that money go?
    “…there is also the teachers that do not instruct, but give big amounts of homework to kids.”
    Yes, its truly appalling, the BCTF is a blight.

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  4. Astro

    The Pro D days (non-instructional days-NID’s) were added to the school year at the request of the teachers so they would have time to develop materials and meet with other teachers, etc. There was no extra pay for them. The decision for when the NID’s occur is up to the school board. Sometimes some are before Labour Day.
    The alteration of the school year is a direct result of under funding by the BC Liberals. School boards are cutting out instructional days and lengthening the others so they the required number of minutes that must be taught will be taught. Good timing on this issue, it should have been an issue in the election, but Campbell wins another one at the expense of the students of BC.

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  5. salvatore bennedetto

    Quite whining already, they are here for another 4 years. Like my kid says deal with it. some are before labor day? so thats 2 months holiday plus pro days plus the labor day weekend? The reason the high school has no books is because the parents have not kicked in enough extra over the year. My neighbour cuts a check every year for his high school lad to get the classes he wants.

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    1. Laila

      In the Surrey school district, there are 6 pro-D days in total- all occur in the Sept. to June schedule, not before. Cant speak for other parents, but the $$ amount I fork over during the year is a sizable amount, considering it’s a public highschool. French workbooks, English workbooks, class materials. The list never ends. Not complaining, but I don’t know how lower income people could keep up with it.

      Teachers whine they don’t get paid over the summer, but their wages for the other 10 months equal the pay many people receive for 12 months of work. Sometimes I think its the teachers that should stop the whining.

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  6. “The reason the high school has no books is because the parents have not kicked in enough extra over the year.”

    Amazing. A million a day, falling enrollment and they can’t cover the cost of books. Where does all that money go? Are the records public? Online?

    “Sometimes I think its the teachers that should stop the whining.”

    Agreed, minus the “sometimes”.

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  7. Frank Heyman

    Just a quick note Check your school district’s annual costs and then compare that to what the provincial government ‘pockets’ from your district. Now when you pick your eyeballs up off the floor ask your MLAs where the excess money goes. Plain and simple the school system is underfunded. My grade six class in Vancouver had 40 plus kids in the late 40’s and my grade seven class was without a teacher until October. If you think teachers are ‘whining’ because of Government underfunding give your heads a shake folks because the system IS UNDERFUNDED.

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  8. salvatore bennedetto

    Everything is UNDERFUNDED. Name me one sector, one group, one part of taxpayer gassed outfit who are not complaining about not enough money. I have not heard, hey, we are good, no problems in this area. Frankly I am tired of the whining. Maybe the whiners would like to part with another 10 percent of their income to cover all the underfunded parts.

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