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School district needs to trim $4.7M

Monday, April 12th, 2010 | 5:00 am

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By Joe Fries

Hugh Gloster had to look no further than his own office when he began compiling a list of budget items for placement on the chopping block.

The Central Okanagan School District’s superintendent is trying to balance the 2010-11 budget by carving out $4.7 million, which equals a roughly 3-per-cent cut to projected expenditures of $166 million.

His recommendations are contained in a report that will be submitted to the school board at its meeting on Wednesday, but which is already available online.

Gloster starts by recommending a $5,000 cut to his own $20,000 budget for food at meetings. He also suggests trimming the board’s office equipment budget from $30,000 to $20,000, and eliminating half a communications officer position. All told, cuts to the superintendent and board office budgets would total $271,250.

He also recommends an $849,000 cut to operations, part of which would eliminate 5.5 custodial jobs, and a $525,000 reduction in student support services by scrapping 2.5 teaching positions. Big-ticket cuts include a $2.3-million decrease in allocations to schools, which could be achieved by trimming staff and discretionary spending, and collapsing under-subscribed courses.

A sampling of other recommendations include cuts to literacy, numeracy and career/life programs.

Blame for the required pencil sharpening is placed squarely at the feet of the provincial Education Ministry, which has set a funding increase for 2010-11 that does not keep pace with funding demands. Of a $112-million addition, $54 million will cover wage increases for teachers, while $58 million will cover the cost of providing full-day kindergarten.

So while School District 23 is looking at a roughly $3-million boost to its operating grant, it is predicting expenditure increases of $7.6 million. Expected budgetary pressures include carbon offsets ($119,000), MSP premium increases ($114,000) and inflation ($300,000). School boards around B.C. are required by provincial legislation to run balanced budgets and have carbon-neutral operations.

Gloster’s report includes feedback from staff and parents that was collected through surveys.

Several people recommend cuts to programming targetted at First Nation students, while several more mention making principals more accountable.

“I believe that principals should have to justify to someone their spending… not sure how you justify buying a (Nintendo) Wii for (one) class when there are broken chairs next door,” wrote one person who claimed to have taught at the elementary- and middle-school levels.

The school board must submit its preliminary 2010-11 budget to the province by June 30.

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2 Responses to “School district needs to trim $4.7M”

  1. Larry says:
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    Its time to stand up to Premier of the province.He has hurt all of us with cuts to schools and other social programs that help the ones that need it most.He needs to go.

  2. Tan says:
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    Makes my decision to homeschool an even better idea after reason this. This way I am able to ensure that my children will get the best education they can without budget cuts getting in the way.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link