The school board has given first reading to a budget which cuts 8.8 teaching positions and one principal position – and increases trustees’ own travel spending by $10,000.
All six district schools will remain open, but the budget means many classes will be larger next year. It boosts the pupil-educator ratio to 14:1 from the current level of 12:1, secretary-treasurer Andrea De Bucy said at last week’s school board meeting (held April 27 at Tahayghen elementary). This is still below the provincial average of 18.8:1, she said.
The budget also maintains school sports spending at the same level as last year, keeps the district resource centre open, maintains the literacy teacher and keeps the e-bus program running out of the Sandspit school.
The cuts to teacher positions will translate into only one person being laid off, Ms De Bucy said, because the rest can be accomplished through resignations and leaves.
“We’ve skidded by, however the future does not look all that great either,” said school board chair Andreas Uttendorfer. “As much as we would like to have a positive attitude, if our enrollment declines it will be increasingly difficult for us to manage.”
The district expects 809 students next year, down from 831 this year.
Despite the cuts, trustees did increase their own budget to $107,000, from $91,000 this year. A portion of the increase is for dues to the BC School Trustees Association, but $10,000 of it will go to trustees for mileage and travel. Trustee Maggie Bell Brown explained that trustees are already overbudget on travel this year, and the budget increase is so they won’t be overbudget next year.
“We’re trying to recognize what we have been spending,” she said.
Mr. Uttendorfer added that he travelled to Victoria recently for the BC School Trustees Association annual general meeting, and other trustees wanted to know why our district had sent only two trustees instead of the whole board.
“We are trying to spend less,” he said. “We’re not trying to spend more.”
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