Cash increase does little for us, says BUT
Mike Charles, the general secretary of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, said that while Bermuda's public education system is going to need a lot more than a $2 million budget boost to bring it up to par, he was encouraged that funds for the department were not cut.
It was announced that public education, described by finance minister Bob Richards in his Budget Statement as “a priority area”, was estimated to receive more than $126 million for the year ahead — up $2 million on the previous year.
School infrastructure maintenance accounted for a $3.2 million slice of the pie — one of the biggest expenditures on capital development across the entire budget.
Issues such as mould, infestation and failing infrastructure have ravaged many of the island's primary schools, as highlighted in the School Reorganisation report commissioned by Wayne Scott, the former Minister of Education.
But while the report focused on the primary schools, which represent 32 per cent of the non-central Ministry of Education budget, it was TN Tatem Middle School whose students were forced to migrate to a school in St David's after a three-month closure for mould treatment.
The Score report recommended that the remaining 68 per cent of schools outside of the primary system also be reviewed, although news of whether this will go ahead has not yet been confirmed.
Mr Charles told The Royal Gazette: “When you consider all the cuts we have been getting in the past, this is a drop in the bucket — it really doesn't do a lot for what public education needs — but at least hopefully this is the end to the consistent cuts. Our public education system has been slashed so many times, it will scratch the surface of where we need to be. Maybe this is a start in the Government paying some attention to public education.”
No mention was made in Mr Richards's Budget Statement with regards to the long-awaited appointment of a new education commissioner to bring leadership to the system, although one source told this newspaper that an announcement would be made on the hiring within a month. Education standards expert Paul Wagstaff, seen as the forerunner to take the position, declined the offer this month.