SD 71 public information meeting addresses budget cuts

$2.2 million in cuts needed for 2015/16 budget

The Comox Valley School District needs to trim $2.2 million from its 2015/16 budget — as it did for this school year.

For 2016/17, it’s facing a further a $1.8 million shortfall, though SD71 secretary-treasurer Russell Horswill wouldn’t be surprised if that number turns out to be $2.2 million as well.

“That’s what we’re struggling with right now,” Horswill said at a public information session Wednesday. “Last year was the first really difficult budget. Getting into the $2 million range was unpleasant for us.”

A $1.1 million shortfall is expected for 2017/18.

“This is what the board calls an ugly budget,” said trustee/finance committee chair Peter Coleman, noting the problem of declining enrolment.

SD71 declined 227 students last September and projects to be down 60 students this September. Last year’s drop was attributed to a large Grade 12 class leaving the system and a smaller kindergarten class coming in. The district hopes the shrinking enrolment issue levels off in the near future.

Staff reductions for the 2015/16 budget total 20.36 FTE (full-time equivalent), with teaching staff comprising 12.39. Two painters and a plumber will also lose jobs.

Proposed reductions in program support for the coming school year total $476,907. A restructuring of Band 7 and Music 7 accounts for $75,000, meaning fewer Grade 7 students will be taking band. Revenue from the money-making International Student Program accounts for a further $75,000. Nearly $50,000 was saved in a reorganization at Cumberland Community School. The biggest saving came by combining two school libraries into one, which means one less library clerk is required. As well, two head custodians are no longer required, which doesn’t translate into a layoff but a reduced premium paid to employees.

Special education busing and mail delivery faces a reduction of nearly $72,000. A part-time person will be dedicated to mail delivery. Savings will come by not running, fuelling and maintaining buses, but it also means a reduced internal mail delivery service.

“That’s a difficult one,” Horswill said. “Those are good people.”

Educational program reductions exceed $1.1 million. Pending budget approval by the school board, student services will drop by $389,270, which includes counsellors, speech language pathologists and others. The total FTE reduction is 4.15. Reductions also include secondary school librarians ($164,150), career programs ($103,180) and secondary pupil-teacher ratio ($477,807).

“The board is not happy doing these (cuts),” Horswill said. “Nobody likes it.”

Removing a senior science lab support position ($24,890) was unpopular with the crowd. One person said the move is contrary to the school board’s guiding principles to support student success and to foster learning. Another said the job entails more than glass washing. It also involves a safety element. Horswill said schools need to prioritize where funds are going. He also noted a monthly investment into health and safety, which is overseen by Paul Berry, a district principal.

Next year’s administrative reductions are nearly $620,000. The budget also includes additions in leave protocol/school supervision ($35,991) and library clerk support ($20,995).

“Reductions this year are less about people than last year,” Horswill said.

The budget consultation process has involved senior administrators and principals, the finance committee, and members of CUPE, the Comox District Teachers’ Association (CDTA) and the local District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC).

The target date for budget adoption is May 26.

 

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

Just Posted

G.P. Vanier in Courtenay has six members of the community who have tested positive; Island Health identified seven staff and 78 students who will be required to self-isolate. Black Press file photo
SD71 identifies eight positive cases of COVID-19 and instructs 108 people to self-isolate

The letter noted that all who have tested positive did not contract COVID-19 within the school sites

Geoff Garbutt takes over as City of Courtenay CAO on April 14. Photo supplied
Courtenay council selects new city CAO

A new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) will be joining the City of… Continue reading

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

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 health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The Town of Comox will formally examine speeding within the town. Black Press file photo
Comox to examine speeding within town

Following discussions at various council meetings, Comox council will formally examine speeding… Continue reading

A male customer without a face mask is seen inside a Burnaby Canadian Tire amidst an altercation with store security and staff members. (Video/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Man arrested after allegedly punching Burnaby Canadian Tire staff over mask rule

Mounties received reports Monday of a customer having punched more than one employee

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

A conceptual drawing of the preferred conveyance route for the Comox Valley Sewer Service.
Preferred conveyance route chosen for Comox Valley Sewer Service

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission approved a plan Tuesday to upgrade the… Continue reading

Most Read