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INFOGRAPHIC: Vancouver school board shows $47m cut in education funds

The Vancouver School Board has created an infographic depicting what it says is government's underfunding of the district since 2002/03. In order to reach the service levels provided to students a decade ago, the board says it would need another $47 million in government funding.

The information in the graphic comes from a restoration budget trustees requested district staff create in a trustee meeting on April 15. In a letter to the trustees from Secretary Treasurer Rick Krowchuk and Lisa Landry, director of finance, dated April 26, Landry and Krowchuk explain 90 per cent of education funding comes directly from government, so any funding shortfalls the district experiences -- $7.91 million this year -- is directly attributable to government underfunding.

"As a result of these funding shortfalls, school districts have had to make reductions to the level of services they provide in order to achieve balanced budgets, as required by the School Act," reads the letter.

"For the purpose of this analysis, we have chosen the 2002/2003 base budget (i.e. before the budget cuts in that year) as the service level in which to restore. The 2002/2003 funding shortfall ($25 million) resulted in significant budget and service level reductions. The VBE has faced funding shortfalls in every year since, with the exception of 2005/2006."

The district's base operating budget 11 years ago was $415 million. Taking into account salary increases, collective agreement increases and changes to employee benefits, turnover, enrollment levels, cost increases, and inflation, Landry and Krowchuk calculated the cost of the services provided in 2002/03 would be $533 million today. But government funding has only increased by $71 million to $486 million this year. That doesn't include an additional $6.87 million in provincial funding from the Learning Improvement Fund and Education Plan Supplement.

The district estimates it's lost $31.5 million for staffing, including 524 entry-level teaching positions, and $15.5 million in services and supplies, including $2.4 million in instructional supplies in and expenses and $2.5 million in operations and maintenance, since 2002/03. Scroll down to read the full letter to VSB trustees.

The BC Liberal government has maintained education funding in the province is at its highest level ever, and the party's election platform only references funding when promising to "commit significant funds to address classroom size and composition challenges across the province." The New Democratic Party promises to invest $372 million in additional education funding over the next three years, although $265 million of that will be targeted specifically to hiring teachers, counsellors, education assistants, and librarians.

The Green Party promises to find an alternative to the current per-student funding model introduced under the Liberal government, as well as investing in extracurriculars. The BC Conservatives pledge to spend an average 5.5 per cent of the government's nominal GDP on public education -- both K-12 and postsecondary -- in the next four years, 0.1 per cent higher than the Liberals' average spending in the last 12 years.

Katie Hyslop is part of The Tyee's election coverage team. She regularly reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee and Tyee Solutions Society. Follow her on Twitter.

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