“Tough Decisions Ahead” for PG School District says Education Minister
Prince George, B.C. – B.C.’s newly appointed Education Minister Mike Bernier says there are some “tough decisions ahead” for trustees in the Prince George School District this fall.
He made the comment during a teleconference this morning in light of last spring’s Cascades Facilities Management report.
“Despite the closure of 21 schools since 2001/02, the capacity in the district is still considered under-utilized as the enrolment continues to decline due to a decreasing school age population,” read the report.
The report also recommended the district make a funding request in its five year capital plan “for the amalgamation or renovation/replacement of Blackburn, Buckhorn, Pineview and Hixon as a combined project.”
Bernier, who didn’t indicate extra funding was forthcoming, was asked if school closures are the answer.
“They’ve done some great work up there but they have some tough decisions to make as well,” answered Bernier. “Locally elected school trustees and the board there, they need to look at what’s going to work well for your region.”
And as a former mayor of Dawson Creek, Bernier said he sympathized with the decisions trustees must make.
“Coming from a rural area, people definitely want to continue enjoying the opportunities that sometimes rural education has but with that comes some tough decisions,” he said.
“So those decisions, we allow the locally elected officials in your district to make within the funding envelope that they have.”
Speaking of funding, he added this coming fiscal year total funding to school districts province wide will reach $5.06 billion – up 31% since 2001.
He also noted the average per-student funding is now an estimated $8,902, an increase of 42% over the same time period.