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

Princeton mayor not ready to hit the gas on bus plan

Council to discuss Greyhound proposal

Start a new family Christmas tradition this Sunday in Princeton

Dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol takes place tomorrow

Passersby help stop spread of Cawston coop fire

Two people driving by Saturday woke a family and helped stop the spread of a fire in a chicken coop

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

Summerland’s Justin Kripps completes first double-medal weekend of career

High-powered Canadian bobsledders celebrate four-man silver at World Cup in Igls

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

Most Read