Comment of the day

I don’t personally know Dawn Steele, but she’s here and there around the local blogosphere, and the comments she leaves are always of the highest quality. This one, which I will post in it’s entirety, left on Janet Steffhagen’s VSun education blog is an example. Fact-based, concise, and righteous – this is how it’s done:

People should stop listening to the rhetoric and research the facts for themselves:

Fact #1: The CG confirmed that the deficit for 2010 was real and that the cuts proposed by the VSB (which will negatively impact students) should go ahead.

Fact #2: The CG confirmed Vancouver had no hidden assets and was not spending excessively on admin, as the minister claimed, so these were both ruled out as solutions.

Fact #3: The CG confirmed that Vancouver already planned to raise rents in its draft budget and that it should not raise them any further in 2010 to avoid losing rental business.

Fact 4: While suggesting that “up to” $5.7 million could be achieved in future savings by closing schools, the CG agreed that this could not happen for the 2010 budget.

Fact 5: The CG proposed that Vancouver achieve ~ $1 million by seekign union concessions, but offered no help on what she had in mind, how this could be achieved by Vancouver if the contracts are negotiated provincially and in what time frame she thought such savings might be realized. If the province took years and ended up having to appoint a mediator to settle the last contract, one wonders how the VSB might be expected to produce results in a week, with nothing to offer in return.

Fact 6: The CG proposed that Vancouver pursue more shared services agreements in future to achieve savings but agreed that there were provincial barriers to doing so and that this was therefore also not a short-term measure possible for 2010.

That leaves:

1. Contracting out cafeteria services: Following due process in reviewing current contracts, potential costs and savings of the proposed change, and following proper tendering procedures for a new contract cannot be done in a week, far less a month. And if the Minister really thinks it can she clearly has no real world business experience.

2.  Cutting back on the use of board governance committees (savings: $160,000 vs. the $11 – $16 million deficit): The CG advised Vancouver to develop a long-term strategic plan, to review how the board conducts its affairs and she also urged the Minister to review the co-governance model. it would be irresponsible for the VSB to rush into a drastic change of how it makes governance decisions without receiving advice on a new structure and direction from the province on the proposed reforms that it will be expected to comply with.

So what’s left? If I’ve missed anything that could save my kid’s educational services in September, I sincerely hope that someone will point it out.

Otherwise, the Minister is ordering Vancouver to do the same that she’s forced every other BC district to do for next year. Cut student services to compensate for her own government’s fiscal irresponsibility and failure to live up to its pre-election promise to protect Education.

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