Response to Editorial/Newsleader published May 8th 2013

To the Editor:

The School Board Trustees who filed the Restoration Budget in 2012 may or may not be reinstated.

After being fired by the Provincial Government, Cowichan trustees did call for an immediate by election to allow our community to judge our actions. We worked hard to secure this outcome and understood it was the typical path followed after other school board firings in the province. We were prepared for whatever consequence the by election offered. The Education Minister at the time was widely quoted as refusing to hold an election in Cowichan believing the same people would be re- elected – his words not mine.

Meanwhile the Ministry‘s preference was to impose an unelected individual on Cowichan to enforce their agenda. This agenda can only be depicted as one which compels dismantlement and privatisation. We shall now see if the outcome of the public consultations which the district has staged will echo the written and spoken views of the families and employees who depend on our schools. Even more, we shall then reflect on whether the massive deconstruction of our system in order to carve another $3.7 million away will be done in the best interests of our children – all our children.

Whether this paper agreed with the stance Cowichan trustees took in 2012 or not, in designing the final budget for 2012/2013 the trustees took the position which they did to meet all elements of our responsibilities under the School Act. Though the Act does require a balanced budget, it also commands school boards to meet the educational expectations and aspirations of their communities in providing appropriate learning opportunities for all children. Under the circumstances, we knew we could not do both. Armed with figures from senior staff, trustees also knew the projections for the years to come would scour another $15 million from our district operation. When you have sought the privilege of representing your community, your conscience as well as all your experience and knowledge must swing into action. We could not continue on the same road.

So here we are – your newspaper could have- over the years- chastised previous boards for the easy, obedient march they took while balancing budgets on the backs of our children and our frontline workers. The unmet needs in our schools received hardly a glance. Instead, the Newsleader has chosen repeatedly to focus its considerable venom uselessly on a few ordinary individuals who ran transparent campaigns to defend our schools and attempted to open a dialogue with the only revenue provider we could effectively rely on – our provincial government. In my view, it is the mandate of any honourable news source to go wide by shedding light on all issues which affect their community and keep the hysterical, self involved vitriol to themselves.

Eden Haythornthwaite

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