No cuts to local classrooms in school board budget

Board dips into reserves to save special education

There will be no cuts in local classrooms this year following the school board’s decision to siphon $1.29 million from reserves in order to meet its operating expenses.

“There’s been no layoffs,” said board chairman Gordon Comeau. “A lot of districts aren’t in as good of a position as us with surplus dollars they are carrying and they are forced to make cuts.”

The Nicola-Similkameen School District 58 passed a $29.2 million operating budget at a meeting last week, following months of consultation with community school groups.

Comeau said the board’s priority throughout the budget process was to protect its investment in students with special needs.

The province provides $2.7 million to District 58 annually to support students with special needs, while the board spends $4.4 million providing those services, employing 60 Education Assistants for 2,000 children.

According to Comeau the province’s eligibility requirements for special education funding are too narrow, and don’t address the needs of all students who need extra support.

“If kids need help they need help,” said Comeau. The extra dollars in the local budget go “to additional support for teachers who might have an excessive amount of stress in the classroom, maybe kids who are not identified as special needs but at the same they need a little extra attention.”

The district has used reserved funds to balance its budget in the past, but not to the level that was required this year, said Comeau. There is approximately $3 million left in reserves. “It will come to a time when it’s not there and we will have to look at cuts and not providing services.”

Comeau said the 2015-2016 budget process was especially challenging as the province clawed back $145,000 in funding, demanding school boards find more administrative efficiencies while downloading responsibility for increases in hydro and natural gas costs, as well as health care premiums.

“Every year for the past few years they’ve been clawing back and not providing adequate increases to the overall budget to cover off inflation,” he said.

“That money has to be found somewhere.  There are other factors. Transportation is not a requirement for school districts but we choose to do that for free. Some districts actually charge for busing.”

Busing will cost the school board $876,674 in the coming year.

 

Salaries and benefits account for the lion’s share of the school board’s budget at $17.09 million, a 3.7 per cent increase over the previous year.

 

 

Just Posted

Blaze near Olalla grows to 527 hectares

The Old Tom Creek fire that started Aug. 15 is burning near Keremeos

Snowy Mountain wildfire looks terrifying as it lights up K-Mountain

BC Wildfire are conducting back burns to get rid of fuel loads on the slope of K-Mountain

Regional district on hunt for manager of emergency services

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is looking for a new emergency services manager

Chance of showers may not be enough to rid Okanagan of smoke

Wind and chance of thunderstorms competing factors in this week’s forecast

UPDATE: Darke Lake residents under evacuation alert

Fire crews battling wildfire in rural community west of Summerland

Filmmaker captures the smoke that enveloped the Shuswap

Check out this video of the haze that blanketed Salmon Arm

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Canadian Armed Forces in the Okanagan to help firefighters

Canadian Armed Forces arrived in Vernon Thursday, being deployed to West Kelowna fire

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Most Read