Comox Valley School District jobs on the line

Equivalent of 46 full-time teachers and support staff facing layoffs

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The Comox Valley School District expects to cut the equivalent of 46 full-time teachers and support staff next year, according to secretary treasurer Russell Horswill.

The district faces an operating budget shortfall of $2.16 million for the 2014/2015 year — at this time last year it faced a $1.45 million shortfall — and Horswill notes the Finance Committee had to make some difficult cuts in this year’s draft budget.

“It certainly was a difficult budget,” Horswill told the Record. “This year we were forced to look at programs and staffing service levels. Prior years we were able to reduce other budgets that didn’t involve people as much, but this year’s difficulty was we were forced to look at our human resources more so than prior years.”

He also pointed out the 23 FTE teachers and 23 FTE support staff positions slated to be cut next year translates to more than 46 people losing their jobs because a number of staff work part-time. Horswill couldn’t give the number of people who could be laid off, noting the district is just going through its annual staffing processes now.

However, district enrolment is expected to decrease by 240 students come September, which accounts for a reduction of 10.5 FTE teaching positions out of the 23 FTE positions expected to be cut. The enrolment decline, according to Horswill, is linked to a large graduating class this year combined with a projected enrolment of fewer kindergarten students.

Still, with the enrolment decline taken into consideration, teacher-to-pupils ratios will need be adjusted due to the teaching job cuts.

The Finance Committee is also recommending budget cuts to the maintenance department, information technology department, district administration/school board office and student supervision.

Horswill’s briefing note to the Comox Valley Board of Education says implementation of the provincially negotiated support staff salary increases, plus a structural deficit carried forward from the 2013/2014 budget contributed to the shortfall, as well as declining enrolment numbers.

The budget process started in January and included stakeholder consultation with the Comox Valley District Parents Advisory Council, the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Comox District Teachers’ Association.

Trustee and Finance Committee chair Rick Grinham told the Board of Education last week the committee will consider adjustments to the draft budget at its May 15 meeting, and plans to bring the proposed budget before the board at the May 27 Board of Education meeting.