Comox Valley trustees find money to pay for support staff wage increases

The Comox Valley Board of Education found an additional $314,000 to fund support staff wage increases.

The Comox Valley Board of Education looked back into this year’s budget and found an additional $314,000 to fund support staff wage increases.

Comox Valley School District superintendent Sherry Elwood told trustees last week the district’s savings plan has been drafted and sent off to the Ministry of Education.

When looking for the savings, the goal “was to try and keep the savings draw away from students, (keep) things as far away from the classroom as we could keep them,” noted Elwood, who pointed out the 2013/2014 budget had already been balanced and approved by the board in the spring.

The district faced a $1.45-million shortfall when it set out the 2013/2014 budget. The finance committee balanced it by way of $826,000 in budget adjustments and a withdrawal of over $600,000 from its reserves.

The savings plan was due Oct. 15 by the Ministry of Education. A 3.5-per-cent wage increase for Canadian Union of Public Employees school support staff, (education assistants, clerical staff, trades, custodians, bus drivers and other education workers), was negotiated as part of the tentative two-year deal reached with government in September. Under the Province’s co-operative gains mandate, an employer must find savings within existing budgets to pay for any wage increases.

The deadline for ratification of all local CUPE agreements is Dec. 20.

The $314,000 additional savings in the Comox Valley School District’s draft savings plan came from various sources, according to Elwood. WorkSafe BC rates for the school district have decreased meaning slightly lower expenses, there is a vacant district operations position that can be left empty, savings were found in the district’s information technology plan and the number of printers in the district can be reduced, according to Elwood.

“We’ve done those kinds of things, and at the end of the day, we’ve got fairly close to the $300,000 that we needed, and with the board’s permission we will draw approximately $30,000 out of our reserve,” she continued, noting districts are only allowed to use reserve funds to find this year’s savings.

The Comox Valley School District will be expected to find about $600,000 in savings in the 2014/2015 budget, and the finance committee won’t be able to use district reserves.

Meanwhile, the Board of Education voted to send a letter expressing its “concerns” and “displeasure” with the process districts have had to follow to Education Minister Peter Fassbender.

Board vice-chair Janice Caton made the motion, noting she’s unimpressed the district was “forced” to find these savings. She said the board has done a good job of balancing the district budget each year and works hard to “best serve our students with the money that we have.

“I’m not arguing over the fact that we do have to find the money; to me it’s the process,” she continued.

Trustee Rick Grinham, who is the finance committee chair, added he is frustrated about a “lack of clarity” around future funding from the Province.

“We’re being forced into a bottleneck here and there doesn’t seem to be any resolution,” he said, adding soon the finance committee will meet to look at how it can balance the 2014/2015 budget. “We’ve got to sort out a number of things and find money, but there’s no money tree.”

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rendering of the Denman Green plans for the Kirk Road site. Image, DHA/Ronan Design
Denman Green finds new site for housing

Facing COVID delays, the project reached expiration date on initial site

A fawn stands in a field. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
MARS hoping to build fawn complex for rehab

Their goal is to raise $20,000 in a relatively short period of time.

Aspen Park in Comox is the latest school reporting a COVID-19 exposure. Screenshot, Google Maps
Fifth Comox Valley school reports COVID-19 exposure

Exposure at Aspen Park in Comox was reported for Feb. 22

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Most Read