Parents worried about B.C. school budget cutsApril 16, 2014
These are difficult days as B.C. boards of education try to balance next year’s budget.
Many are considering cuts to services, staff and programs because of funding shortfalls. For example, Coquitlam needs to reduce spending by $13.4 million; Vancouver, $12.3 million; Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, $5 million; Nanaimo-Ladysmith, $4.5 million; Central Okanagan, $4 million, Delta, $3.3 million; Burnaby, $3 million, New Westminster, $2.7 million, Richmond, $2.5 million, Victoria $1.8 million, and Salmon Arm, $1.8 million.
Many trustees blame the provincial government, noting its unwillingness to boost district operating grants to cover inflation and additional expenses such as MSP premiums, teacher pension plans and a support staff pay hike. Declining enrolments have also hurt the bottom line.
Some of the proposed cuts have prompted an outcry from parents and staff. In Vancouver, there’s particular anger over a plan to eliminate – or start charging for – the elementary band and strings program and an athletic coordinator who organizes sport competitions for thousands of students.
Cutting band and strings would save $630,652; eliminating the athletic coordinator, $71,216.
(Few school districts have a band and strings program. North Vancouver is one that does, but students pay a $460 fee and must provide their own instruments. Please see comment below from the Coalition for Music Education in BC.)
The Vancouver board held its first public budget meeting Tuesday and it was standing room only, the Vancouver Courier says. Another meeting is scheduled for tonight (April 16) and tomorrow (April 17). Get details here and check school district websites for public meetings around the province.
Vancouver is looking for many more savings than those few proposals that have been in the limelight. Here are some examples, with anticipated savings or revenue in brackets:
– Close schools Nov. 12-14 and extend each school day by five minutes to replace time lost ($375,000)
– Reduce mileage reimbursements when staff use personal vehicles for business ($500,000)
– Require supervisors’ approval for overtime ($50,000)
– Sell and lease back 160 photocopiers ($1 million)
– Quit the B.C. School Trustees’ Association ($80,000)
– End DPAC funding for one year ($35,000)
– Freeze out-of-district travel for one year ($50,000)
– Close 28 unused classrooms ($39,200)
– Charge employees a nominal monthly parking fee at all schools ($225,000)
– End the money-losing Continuing Education program ($514,401)
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and the information presented here does not represent in any way the views of the organization