Protesters concerned about school district cuts line Douglas Street

More than 1,000 people are expected to line Douglas Street from Boleskine Road to the legislature today to protest proposed cuts in the 2021-22 Greater Victoria School District budget.

While the prospect of cuts to music programs has galvanized protesters planning to attend the event, which starts at 1:30 p.m., others are motivated by concern about reduced funding for a primary-grades reading program and youth/family counsellors.

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The distance from 556 Boleskine, the site of school district offices, to the legislature is about five kilometres.

Many people in the crowd are expected to play their musical instruments.

Planned speakers at the district offices include Indigenous music teacher Alana Johnson; Cindy Romphf, president of the Greater Victoria Music Educators’ Association; Jane Massey of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 947; and Winona Waldron, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association.

The school district budget is set for approval on Monday.

District secretary-treasurer Kim Morris said the district has tried to be responsive to some of the feedback it has been getting throughout the budgeting process.

The plan is to start the next budget process earlier so there is more time for input, said Morris, noting tough decisions had to be made to deal with a $7-million deficit in a $253-million budget.

“We’d like to keep all the things that we have,” Morris said. “They are very vital and important to students.”

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