A gap in logic unravels the provincial government’s argument justifying demands for more cuts to education this year.
Following reductions in funding last fiscal year, the Department of Education told school boards Friday they’ll have to dig again and trim an average of 1.3 per cent for 2012-13. In Chignecto Central the figure is 1.7 per cent.
The rationale, which we’ve heard repeatedly, is declining enrolment in Nova Scotia schools. Education Minister Ramona Jennex said numbers are expected to drop this year by more than 2,200 students, or 1.7 per cent.
We fully understand that with school populations on a continuing slide, funding generally has to go in the same direction. That’s the reason for school reviews – which the Chignecto Central Regional School Board recently approved to get underway.
But until that happens and schools are closed to take up some slack, finding substantial savings isn’t easy. Citing declining enrolment like a broken record isn’t as convincing as the province thinks.
Trudy Thompson, chairwoman of the Chignecto Central board, said the ordered cost-cutting comes at the same time the province is asking boards to expand programs under a new education plan to boost math and trades.
Well, which is it, we might ask – expand or shrink?
Living within our means is a tough reality citizens here and elsewhere have to face. Finance Minister Graham Steele has again consulted the province with the “Back to Balance” meetings. It’s a good initiative. Nova Scotia can’t maintain the status quo in government services, and there are public programs people will question.
But education is critical to the province’s future economic health.
We appreciate the challenge this government faces. It needs to balance the budget before the next election. Short of sudden economic growth, the alternative is continuing to make cuts.
But they should realize, if they severely impair education by that time voters won’t be impressed by the money savings.