The Vancouver School Board has come up with a novel way of dealing with an $18-million shortfall:

 

Less school.

 

Not just a little bit less school — 10 whole days less. One more week of spring break! More long weekends!

 

If school kids could vote, these guys could count on long and successful political careers.
Of course, it will only save $1 million. There’s still $17 million to go, so by the time the VSB is finished, kids will be in school 10 days of the year and will get the rest off. Of course, teachers will still be paid their full salaries.


That’s not really acceptable, if only because schools are really daycares in disguise and if they close the schools, there is no fallback. Parents don’t have time to look after the diminished number of kids they still have because both of them are working in order to afford the kids in the first place.


Round and round we go. This dance resembles musical chairs, but since the VSB will have to cancel arts and music programs, there will be no dancing … or musical chairs, either.


Meanwhile, the provincial government is busy plowing $685 million into a new roof for B.C. Place. After all, now that the kids won’t be in school they’ll have more time for bread and circuses.


The province maintains it’s not to blame, as funding to the VSB actually increases this year, by half a million to $443 million. So it’s nobody’s fault, as usual. And the kids get short-changed, as usual.


Year after year, we have this stupid debate. Year after year, public school enrolment goes down and the problem gets worse, thanks to discouraging demographics and the increasingly attractive private school option. Somehow, private schools are able to stay open for the same number of days each year, reliably offering the same number of programs despite being challenged by the same economy. How is that?


Call me sentimental, but I think school is important, especially because I don’t have to go any more. But I do remember that just about the only thing keeping me out of that other school — reform school — was the school band program. The trombone kept me out of trouble, and I wonder how many other kids are saved from the street every by year by band or jazz or dance or musicals.


Cut school days and cut programs, and you cut futures, as sure as 1, 2, 3, A, B, C. When will we ever learn?