There’s good news and bad news in the school board’s budget for next year. On the bad side, there are cuts totaling about $288,000 to teaching, support and maintenance staff; on the plus side, the board increased funding for literacy teaching, school sports and outdoor ed, as well as for the district resource centre. The cuts total $391,000, the increases $173,000. It all adds up to a balanced $9.2-million budget which includes the $218,000 in cuts necessary to stay in the black for the year beginning July 1.
“I am glad that we were able to come to some kind of compromise and I think it’s a very good compromise,” board chair Andreas Uttendorfer said. “We are actually taking another person into the classroom for the literacy program. I think that is something that we heard from the public and we felt that something needed to be done.”
Mr. Uttendorfer also said he’s proud the budget is balanced, and commended district administrators for their hard work to ensure the classroom continues to be the top priority.
“I can very proudly say that the people sitting on this board here, they’re dedicated to education,” he said. “We are not always able to do everything that we would like to, such as, you know we would like to support the sports program, but we have to know where our priorities are.”
The main changes for the coming year include funding cuts for two teachers, 1.5 maintenance staff workers and two CUPE support staff. This saves $288,000. The director of instruction position at the board office is not funded until money can be found, saving another $104,000.
The budget increases funding in several areas, providing money for an additional full time literacy teacher ($70,000) and an extra $40,000 for that program, more for school based sports programs ($15,000) and outdoor ed ($5,000), and more ($5,000) for the district resource centre. It also funds a contract position in human resources ($36,000) until money can be found for the director of instruction position.
While consideration was given to increased transportation funding for Sandspit and Port Clements, “at this time (these) cannot be funded”, a board document says. It also says other changes are in the works that will not cost the district any more, including library services and supplies, late night busing and French teaching.
“I am pleased to see that they listened to everyone, essentially, about keeping the focus on what affects students in the classroom”, district teachers’ association president Duncan White told the Observer, “and they have a least put aside their desire for more administrative help at the board office until they can gain some funding to cover it.”
Mr. White also said he thought the public budget consultations, held in March, was “a pretty fair process” and “I think they did a pretty reasonable job based on the funding they have been given and the input that they had.”
The board adopted the budget at its meeting in Queen Charlotte on Tuesday. It will begin operating under the new budget July 1.
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