School board chair questions wording in letter from province

'Let's hope that, as part of the discussion, they'll realize the need to fund it'

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
February 16, 2013 01:00 AM

Denise Harper

The use of "deliberate" in a letter about potential cost increases to school districts has the head of the Kamloops-Thompson school board convinced the province isn't ready to commit to funding.

"Let's hope that, as part of the discussion, they'll realize the need to fund it," Denise Harper said Friday.

Harper's comments were directed at a letter Education Minister Don McRae sent to Kamloops-Thompson school trustees about a planned pension increase for teachers effective July 1.

The Pension Corporation of B.C. advised school districts of the increases in November. Kamloops-Thompson's contribution is 1.3 per cent, an amount of $840,000.

Trustees responded by writing a letter of concern to the province, saying they hope funding will be provided to cover the amount. Harper said McRae's letter, dated Jan. 31, makes no promises that this will be the case.

"It's fairly inconclusive," she said.

In the letter, which is included in the agenda for Monday's school board meeting, McRae states that boards of education are expected to plan for unseen events and cost pressures to school districts.

McRae continues, saying the pension cost increase will be deliberated as part of the government's budget process during the coming year.

If the province doesn't come through, district administrators will have to cut jobs to make up the $840,000. Secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch said the amount equates to about 10 teaching positions.

But Stretch was quick to point out that the province has always come through.

"In the past, the government has been able to provide the appropriate funding," said Stretch.

The school district sets its preliminary budget in April, weeks before the next provincial election.

There is nothing in McRae's letter to indicate when a funding decision will be made.

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