VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government is handing $25 million back to provincial school districts.
Education Minister Mike Bernier made the announcement Tuesday, saying the cash comes from administrative savings made by the districts.
Returns range from a high of $3.1 million to Surrey and $2.2 million to Vancouver, to just over $27,000 for the Stikine district in northwestern B.C.
All 60 B.C. school districts will receive some funds.
Bernier says in a news release that the money can be used for any purpose, from programs or hiring new teachers to maintaining schools impacted by falling enrolment.
Teresa Rezansoff of the BC School Trustees Association thanked the Ministry of Education for responding to the funding concerns of school districts.
B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker issued a release saying the return of the $25 million shows the government is feeling pressure to improve education funding a year ahead of a provincial election.
The federation says the money returned to school districts originates from the 2015 budget when the B.C. government announced a plan requiring districts to cut $29 million, and a further $25 million in 2016.
"Our government is committed to ensuring that maximum education dollars go into services for students."
— B.C. Education Minister Mike Bernier
"While we are appreciative that the government is making this move, it should never have happened in the first place,'' says Iker.
"It's incumbent upon teachers, parent groups, and school trustees to keep reaching out to government MLAs to ensure they understand the depth of the crisis, and commit to taking more action,'' he says.
Bernier says school districts made real efforts to reduce administrative spending, making it possible to funnel that cash back into classrooms.
"Our government is committed to ensuring that maximum education dollars go into services for students,'' Bernier says.
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