B.C.’s school trustees are calling on Premier Gordon Campbell and his government to delay the introduction of all-day kindergarten until it is able to sufficiently fund the province’s existing public school system.
“We’re underfunded, the government is not fulfilling its responsibilities and so we’re very leery of taking on any additional costs,” said Vancouver School Board trustee Mike Lombardi.
The resolution was adopted during a B.C. School Trustees Association council meeting Sunday. The trustees are elected officials who plan policy and the annual budget for their respective school boards.
School board budgets are already stretched to the breaking point and cannot, under present conditions, absorb costs associated with all-day kindergarten, Lombardi said.
The Vancouver school district, for instance, faces $8 million in cuts this year — even though operating costs are on the rise.
Campbell announced during his throne speech that half of B.C.’s elementary schools would offer all-day kindergarten in September 2010.
The program — which comes with a $151-million price tag — would be expanded to all schools the following year.
Lombardi put out a call to arms to parents who want all-day kindergarten brought in next year.
“Tell government to get their priorities right and fund programs like all-day kindergarten and other important educational programs,” he said.
Seventeen Vancouver schools offer extended kindergarten and Lombardi said the program has been successful, but in order to make it work provincewide, the government needs to pony up the cash.