Parent Group Launches Campaign for Reinstatement of Annual Facilities Grant to School Districts

VANCOUVER – Canadian Parents for French - BC & Yukon Branch launched a campaign among its 9000+ membership this week calling for the immediate reinstatement of the Annual Facilities Grant, which was cut by the Ministry of Education in August of last year. The $110 million dollar grant is a substantial portion of budgets for school districts across BC. CPF - BC & Yukon is encouraging its members and partners to write to their MLA, urging them to work towards the immediate reinstatement of the grant. Until then, French Second Language programs across BC are at risk, as are other programs of choice. With the potential loss of choice in the public school system we can expect to see an accelerated movement to independent schools and homeschooling, as parents seek educational alternatives.

“Children all over British Columbia are feeling the impact of this funding cut,” explains Debra Pool, President of Canadian Parents for French - BC & Yukon. “We are concerned that this will result in school districts making short-term budget decisions with negative long-term consequences for the quality of public education. In spite of dramatic budget shortfalls, school districts still must balance their budgets, as required by provincial law.”

In terms of French Second Language education, impacts of budget constraints are being felt in School District #27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin), where district staff recommended the elimination of French immersion despite its popularity. School Districts #44 (North Vancouver), #73 (Kamloops) and #57 (Prince George) are moving toward school closures and consolidations which would lead to the elimination of dual-track schools in favour of single-track French immersion schools. Parents are concerned these reconfigurations will lead to diminished access from outlying or rural areas.

Debra Pool went on to say, “Although our focus is on French Second Language education, we know that these are difficult times for everyone. We are committed to ensuring a healthy public education system – and this objective can be met in part by a responsible, targeted measure like the reinstatement of the Annual Facilities Grant.”

This call to reinstate the Annual Facilities Grant has been endorsed by the following organizations: BC Teachers Federation, Association canadienne des professeurs d'immersion, Association des Professeurs d’Immersion de la Colombie-Britannique, BC Language Coordinators Association and the British Columbia Association of Teachers of Modern Languages.

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