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VANCOUVER While saying they support more autonomy for school districts, the Campbell Liberal government has quietly created a legislative hammer to keep trustees in line and undermine local decision-making, CUPE BC said today.

This new legislation is a threat to school boards, said Barry ONeill, president of CUPE BC. If trustees oppose the government on almost any matter they can be fired.

Existing legislation allows for school district boards to be fired only if there is a mismanagement of district funds. Bill 34 has changed the rules on which a board of trustees can be fired to include academic achievement and in the public interest.

School board opposition to cuts in funding and services to children could be seen as not in the public interest, said ONeill. We could see democratically elected school boards fired for standing up to the provincial government.

And the legislations new plans to involve parents in schools would be great if the Campbell Liberals hadnt already cut off any real possibility for parents to help improve childrens education, ONeill said.

Giving parents more say can be a good thing, ONeill said. But this government has cut funding so severely that the proposed school planning councils wont have any real power to improve education.

ONeill also noted that there are no support staff workers on the councils. Worse still, he was shocked to learn that CUPE members who are parents will not be allowed to sit on the councils, even if they work in a different district then where their children go to school.

Our members are parents as well, ONeill said. To see them shut out of the planning process because they also work in schools and belong to a union is grossly unfair.

CUPE represents more than 23,000 workers in the K-12 sector.


Ron Verzuh, CUPE Communications,
604-291-1940 or 604-785-1422.

For more Strong Communities campaign news, check out cupe.bc.ca.