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Education cuts in New Brunswick

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As tough as Manitoba’s upcoming school board budgets will be, it’s a whole lot tougher in New Brunswick.

The provincial government in Fredericton has told school boards to cut one per cent from budgets this year, and to cut two to three per cent in future years.

I was reading about this in the executive minutes of the Manitoba School Boards Association, which in turn credits the CBC for the information.

New Brunswick scrapped its school trustees a few years ago, replacing them for a while with local committees. Trustees are back now, but have no taxing power.

And the New Brunswick provincial government told trustees to cut spending without dropping any teachers.

Meanwhile, back on the planet’s surface.....

A one per cent cut isn’t just that, it also means no increase. So if your budget was $1 this year, you probably expected it to go up to $1.03 or $1.04, and instead it’s 99 cents, you can see that your buying power has dropped dramatically. When employees make up 85 per cent of a budget, and teachers just under two-thirds of spending, and teachers expect a raise, where on earth will the trustees cut, if they can’t reduce the workforce?

No heat? Bring a flashlight, kids? No more school buses? Wash your hands in cold water, bring your own toilet paper from home?

Let’s watch that one carefully.

And also, through the MSBA’s quoting CBC, I see that Prince Edward Island’s government plans to amend legislation and allow it to disband school boards deemed to be dysfunctional or ineffective. No word yet about definitions of those terms, but if the education minister on The Island disbands school boards, who’s left as a scapegoat for any shortcomings in public education?

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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