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Difficult times ahead, New Westminster principal tells parentsDecember 6, 2013

Author: Webmaster

New Westminster parents are appealing for information about how the school board’s efforts to repay a $5-million deficit will affect their children’s education.

Some were shaken late last month when the principal of New Westminster secondary school sent a letter home describing the impact of a drastic cut to that school’s budget (to $65,000 from $800,000).

In his newsletter, Phil Cookson told parents that the reduction means “all non-essential expenditures such as the replacement of computers, the purchase of library books and the repair or replacement of worn out equipment and furniture have been drastically reduced or postponed.

“For 2014-15, however, life as it currently exists at NWSS will have to be substantially altered should our operating budget not be increased from its current $65,000.”

Stephen Bruyneel, chairman of the school’s PAC, told the New Westminster Leader that parents knew cuts were coming but details had not been broadly communicated.

“Letting them know at least gives them time to plan,” Bruyneel is quoted as saying. “Bad news is bad, but if you know early enough, you can plan for it.”

Other parents say they also need more information about the impact of cuts on their schools.

In a letter to newly elected chairwoman Jonina Campbell, parent Paul Johansen said families might be able to help by fundraising or putting pressure on the provincial government for assistance with the dire situation.

Cookson, meanwhile, urged parents to get involved by attending the next PAC meeting at NWSS on Jan. 16 at 7 pm and paying attention early next year as the board develops its 2014-15 budget.

“We are facing difficult times and some very difficult decisions,” he says in his newsletter. “These decisions will affect your children.”

On other fiscal fronts:

–  The Kootenay Lake board of education, which declared in November that it had no money to pay for a provincially negotiated pay increase for CUPE, has changed its stance. Facing the threat of a strike and fearing the government might fire them, trustees have now submitted a savings plan to government to cover the pay hike of 3.5 per cent over two years.

–  In the Greater Victoria district, CUPE members have rejected a tentative local agreement because of changes to benefits. Read a Times Colonist story here.

B.C. school boards have until  Dec. 20 to ratify a local agreement building on the provincial framework.

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