Cutting maintenance a ticking time bomb

Cutting the school district budget down to the amount of money doled out by the province from the amount that is actually needed is a heart-wrenching exercise of starving one limb to try to save another.

The end goal is to give the children in our community the best possible education, to arm them with not only knowledge, but skills and confidence and hope for the future.

It is heartening that the newly elected school board has clawed back some funds for desperately needed educational assistants

for our schools. Special needs students have been falling through the cracks in our system, cracks created by years of chronic underfunding. Educational assistants to help these students in the classroom are a key piece to the puzzle.

Taking back funds in the form of reducing anticipated exempt staff pay increases to do this is a responsible way to make it happen.

But there are other areas that our trustees have chosen to cut that are concerning, and could jeopardize the future of the system.

To be clear, these cuts have not been chosen with malice or negligence. We believe that our trustees are genuinely trying to do the best they can with the funding resources available.

However, we question the wisdom of cutting deeply into the maintenance budget, for example, where they’ve trimmed almost $200,000.

It’s not just this year. Unsurprisingly, this is a budget that often takes a hit when it comes to choices over whether to fund classroom resources or the more invisible inner workings of our schools that keep

them operational.

Thus it’s been a long time since anyone could truly say our school buildings were in tip top shape. Everything from janitorial to renovations has been pared to the bone in the last decade and it shows. The bigger problem is, it will continue to show more and more until the small fixes needed turn into big fixes and our schools fall apart due to neglect.

Not keeping up with maintenance is a fool’s game where problems only magnify over time. What is needed, of course, is more money from the province.

One place to get that money would be for taypayers to stop having to foot part of the bill for private schools.

It is hard to swallow that our tax dollars for education go in part to private institutions as we watch our infrastructure crumble while private schools open palatial new buildings.

Perhaps some of the donation money that makes the new digs possible could go into the coffers to allow the public system to take back our public money, which we are so desperately in need of. Something to think about, at least.