PQ orders school boards to make $100M in cuts
Published Tuesday, October 1, 2013 7:51PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 2, 2013 7:32AM EDT
QUEBEC CITY - The Parti Quebecois government is ordering Quebec’s school boards to make $100 million in cuts over the next two years and it says a committee of experts will determine how that can be done.
The committee will be set up soon by the government and will consider all options for school administration and financing, including abolishing the province’s 69 school boards.
Education Minister Marie Malavoy said after a meeting Tuesday with representatives of the school boards that the government spends $8.4 billion in tax dollars annually to fund the pedagogical side of the education system, while school taxes pay for administrative costs like salaries.
“We give a lot of money so that students in all regions can get a quality education,” Malavoy said.
She added that it is now up to the school boards to make cuts in order to reduce the burden on those who pay school taxes levied by the boards.
Earlier this year, with Malavoy's approval, the boards raised school taxes by as much as 30 per cent in some regions after the government imposed $200 million in cuts.
Josee Bouchard, head of the francophone Quebec Federation of School Boards, doubted how effective the government’s experts' committee would be in finding ways to cut costs.
“If she wants the keys I’ll give them to her myself,” Bouchard said about Premier Marois. “She can come in and look for ways to cut.”
Bouchard said direct services to students will suffer and she said some boards may decide to defy the law and refuse to make the cuts. Bouchard said she believes the government wants to use school taxes as an election issue.
Members of the Quebec English School Boards Association, representing all nine anglophone school boards in the province, said the meeting with the premier and the education minister left them with a “negative” feeling.
They worried the experts' committee will not be truly representative since the premier did not guarantee they could name a person to sit on the committee.
“I don't think we're ready to be the premier's pawn in this game,” QESBA Executive Director David Birnbaum said.