2. ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS MAY BE REVENUE NEUTRAL – FIND OUT (April 11, 2016)

From: Julee Kaye
Sent: April-11-16 11:21 AM
To: ‘educ.minister@gov.bc.ca’; ‘mike.lombardi@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘allan.wong@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘Janet.fraser@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘fraser.ballantyne@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘christopher.richardson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘patti.bacchus@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘joy.alexander@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘penny.noble@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘stacy.robertson@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘david.eby.MLA@leg.bc.ca’; ‘andrew.wilkinson.MLA@leg.bc.ca’;
‘communications@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘nbrennan@vsb.bc.ca’; ‘jpearce@vsb.bc.ca’;
‘jstewart@vsb.bc.ca’

Subject: 2. ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS MAY BE REVENUE NEUTRAL – FIND OUT

To VSB’s trustees, our Minister of Education, and my local MLAs:

Also disturbingly and maddeningly absent from each year’s school funding
debate is a proper cost-benefit analysis of the proposed budget cuts.
Notwithstanding the less tangible benefits, even the financial benefits of
the targeted programs have not been evaluated.

In particular, the ATHLETIC COORDINATOR, BAND, STRINGS AND GIFTED ENRICHMENT
PROGRAMS MAY BE REVENUE NEUTRAL – OR EVEN PROFITABLE TO THE VSB – BECAUSE
THEY HELP RETAIN STUDENTS IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM.

Consider the example of the athletic coordinator. According to various news
service reports and the MoE’s online documents:

i) this position costs $77,000 per year.
ii) 8,000 high school students and ‘thousands’ of elementary students
for a possible total of “tens of thousands” of students each year
participate in the sporting events supported by this position;
iii) the MoE will provide the VSB with $7,166 for each enrolled student
next year.

With those numbers, we can see that supporting the VSB athletic coordinator
requires the entire Ministry funding allowance of just over 10 students and
benefits potentially 20,000 students. SO THE PROGRAM IS REVENUE NEUTRAL TO
THE VSB IF EVEN 11 STUDENTS WOULD OTHERWISE WITHDRAW FROM VSB SCHOOLS,
TAKING THEIR MINISTRY FUNDING WITH THEM.

What percentage of students currently enjoying VSB athletic programs might
withdraw from VSB schools if the district program were cut? If your
administrators have not estimated that percentage, then they are in no
position to make an informed recommendation about cutting the program.

Based on my observations, competitive sports are viewed as an extremely
important aspect of youth education in a high percentage of Vancouver
families. It is no stretch to imagine that some of these families could and
would switch their children to private schools if they no longer believed
the VSB was going to provide adequate athletic programming. It also seems
clear that secondary school athletic programs provide recognition and
positive reinforcement to some percentage of teenagers who might otherwise
drop-out of school completely.

It does not seem a stretch at all to conclude that the athletic coordinator
position is operating at a profit to the VSB because it helps to retain in
the public school system many more students than the number whose funding
allowance is needed to run the program.

I do not have participation and cost data for the Band, Strings, and Gifted
enrichment programs that are also currently on the VSB’s chopping block. I
would hope though that the VSB’s staff will provide trustees with that data
so that they may equally consider the likelihood that each of these programs
is retaining more students with the VSB than the number of students whose
funding allowance is needed to support the program.

IT SEEMS HIGHLY LIKELY THAT IN FACT ATHLETICS, BAND, STRINGS AND GIFTED
ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS ARE ALL JUSTIFIABLE ON THE BASIS OF THIS FINANCIAL
CALCULATION ALONE.

The existence of these enrichment programs allows parents to feel that
public schools are providing a reasonable level of opportunity for their
children. Please note that students in these programs have, by the fact of
their decision to participate in the program, shown a greater than average
level of initiative. If the VSB loses these kids, they lose some of their
most motivated and capable students. Moreover, these kids will tend to come
from families who also have above average initiative. Many of them will not
keep their kids in schools that they no longer believe are doing an adequate
job of educating them.

In a later message, I will offer data on the percentage of Vancouver
children who are already in private schools and how fast this number is
increasing under the situation of recent years. Do not assume only a small
percentage of families might leave the VSB if more programs are cut: more
than 1 in 4 Vancouver students have already left the public system.

In total, I think the detrimental effects of cutting these programs are so
evident that their presence on the chopping block would almost appear to be
a cynical move designed to inspire parental outrage.

Sincerely,
Julee Kaye
(Parent from QEA, JQ, General Gordon, Kerrisdale, Kitsilano & soon Point
Grey)