Students, teachers rally against cuts to schools
Hundreds of students, teachers and members of the Vancouver School Board gathered at John Oliver Secondary on Sunday to rally against huge cuts to schools in the city.
The board is facing a budget shortfall of more than $18 million this year, and has proposed drastic cuts to make up for that, including slashing 190 jobs and trimming classes like fine arts and band.
At the South Vancouver school on Sunday, the crowd chanted, "No more cuts," while protesters signed their names to a petition against the proposed cuts.
The school board blames the provincial government for failing to provide enough funding.
"This comes after $50 million in accumulated spending cuts this decade. The cupboard is bare," chairwoman Patti Bacchus told the crowd.
Students and teachers say the situation is desperate.
"All out textbooks are old. We have ripped pages that you have to tape. They're also cutting so much funding for special ed programs. And that's not fair -- they don't deserve that," one student said.
Elementary school teacher Helen French said that students will suffer when special education is cut.
"I see children who think they are stupid because they don't understand something, and there was no one to give them that extra time to understand, and help them see that they are not stupid. They just need a little extra time and support."
School board trustees said that Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid was invited to Sunday's rally, but she didn't show.
Vice chairwoman Jane Bouey told CTV News that MacDiarmid also cancelled a scheduled meeting in Victoria next week.
But the minister has appointed a special advisor to examine the board's financial performance.
NDP MLA Adrian Dix said that the government is being unnecessarily combative.
"The government, instead of resolving the problem…is trying to pick a political fight when they should be focusing on education," he told CTV News.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Renu Bakshi