My apologies for sending out Monday Morning Commentary on a Tuesday morning. My other political passion – being a councillor for the RM of Baildon – became very interesting to say the least with the resignation of our Administrator, the Reeve and one of my fellow councillors. There maybe a couple of more councillors leaving in the near future. Needless to say this necessitated a couple of meetings yesterday to put out some fires and to figure out what we will do with our administrative and constitutional leadership gone.
This being the last week before the start up of the school year which the government mandated has to now start after the Labour Day weekend, means that educational issues are back in front of the public. I noticed an article on the revamping of the science curriculum in Saskatchewan to modernize it and make it more relevant to today’s society. Gone are the standard classes of chemistry, physics and biology which are now being replaced with new disciplines and new names which I suppose will incorporate some of the past.
My issue today is not with the scholastic makeup of our educational system because I have always believed that Saskatchewan has had very bright people working on curriculum development. The issue that I believe is out there and is not being addressed is one of infrastructure and the fact that the super-sized school districts that were formed with what amounted to forced amalgamation are not going to be able to maintain their infrastructure much less fix what they currently have with the current funding formulas.
In talking to various people in both the public and separate school systems in my area, I am told that there are serious consequences surrounding the new funding formulas since the government removed educational taxation from property. School boards now do not even have the ability to do local fundraising for individual schools because it must all go into a common pot. I know the public school that I attended in the city of Moose Jaw which was exclusively populated with rural kids at that time had a very vigorous local board which raised a lot of funds to enhance the educational, recreational and quality of life issues around that school. That is no longer the case.
It seems the Sask Party government had no problem funding new administrative office space and amenities for the head bureaucrats and boards when amalgamation occurred – I suppose to buy loyalty and support – but never made provision for fixing the roofs or installing new windows in the schools across this province. School boards now seem powerless to make the necessary changes. Government has the hammer. Some how the education of our children and the schools that they attend have to be brought back as a priority of all of us. Education is the fundamental building block of a society and we cannot afford to lose ours.
Our arrogant Sask Party government is now busy throwing their weight around the city of Moose Jaw. Yesterday they announced the first of their group homes to replace the Valley View Centre. This is a $1.2 million – five person group home – stuck in the middle of one of Moose Jaw’s newest residential developments. The promised interaction with local residents and civic administration was not a consultation but a planned media event for Sask Party politicians and their friends. When the Mayor raised questions around the placement of the home and the lack of consultation with local residents the week before, it appears from news reports those questions were not answered. When she asked about the 40 similar structures that would be needed to house the residents of Valley View and the staff that it would take to operate this many residences, there was no answer. Consequently the sod turning event yesterday with a fancy tent and many Sask Party dignitaries was held without the Mayor of the city of Moose Jaw in attendance.
I do not believe the government has a plan at all and are simply going to muddle through this with no regard to the residents, the employees or the residents of Moose Jaw. Time will tell but the attitude of this government grows more arrogant by the day and that does not bode well for any of the above. I believe from the very beginning that this government - more than anything - wants to get rid of the 500 unionized employees at Valley View and the paycheques that go with them. This will open up many opportunities for friends of the government to build group homes.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.