School budget cut

The Okanagan Skaha School Board faced a $1.5 million funding shortfall this year.

In order to cope with a $1.5 million funding shortfall, the Okanagan Skaha School District dipped into accumulated savings and reserves and made additional cuts to the budget.

The preliminary operating budget for the 2013 to 2014 school year was approved at a public board meeting earlier this month.

The board used $900,000 in accumulated savings and reserves.

The remainder, $600,000, comes from numerous reductions.

“Our long-term planning strategy has again allowed us to mitigate the effects of a funding shortage; however reductions to services and programs are still necessary this year,” said Ginny Manning, chair of the school board.

The $600,000 in cuts came from a number of measures. The reductions include cuts to the gifted program, the deaf and hard of hearing teacher, helping teachers, the behaviour program and administration.

Other efforts include clerical reductions worth $70,000, maintenance and custodial reductions worth $88,000 and a reduction in school and district supply, equipment and travel budgets to trim $190,300 from the budget.

Summerland school trustee Linda Van Alphen, who is also the chair of the school board’s finance and management committee, said enrolment in the school district is forecast to drop by 200 to 250 students.

The declining enrolment is at the high school and upper middle school levels.

According to school district information, elementary enrolment has shown signs of levelling off, but future enrolment drops in higher grades are anticipated.

“It will be harder for high schools to provide different programs to the students,” she said. “Our high schools will have to get far more creative.”

She said methods including video conferencing and other technological measures could be used to provide education to students at the various high schools in the school district.

A separate Learning Improvement Fund will be available again this year. This fund provides additional resources to support challenging learning conditions.

The spending plan must be completed by Oct. 15 and will be focussed on teachers, support staff and other resources.

“I am pleased that the Learning Improvement Fund will again be available this year and we will be able to add staffing and resources to educationally challenging areas,” Manning said.

Van Alphen said the board was able to meet its budget for this year, but might not be able to cope with another funding reduction in the future.

“If we have cuts next year, I don’t know where we’re going to go,” she said. “This was the most difficult year we’ve had. We’re doing the very best we can.”

Unlike municipal governments, school boards may not adjust tax rates. Instead, funding for a school district is distributed by the province, based on enrolment figures.

School boards are not allowed to operate deficit budgets.

To bring in additional funding, Van Alphen said the school board is looking at ways to market its technology and to attract international students.

She added that while the budget cuts are made carefully, with an attempt to minimize the impact on families and students, the board is not able to offer everything it would like to provide.

“Our hearts go out to the parents,” she said.


Just Posted

LETTER: Refine it where you mine it

Why not refine oil sand resources where they are mined?

LETTER: Slow down to save fuel and money

Many motorists observed speeding along Highway 97

Oliver arena celebrates anniversary with Montreal Canadiens alumni game

Players have the chance to play with or against the Montreal Canadiens alumni

UPDATE: Sagmoen to stand trial

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

COLUMN: Finding the joy during the holiday season

For some, instead of joy and cheer there is sadness, loneliness, even depression at Christmas

More snow to kick off the week

The Okanagan and Shuswap will see a light dusting of snow Monday night

Federal government plans examination of coerced sterilization

The Liberals have been pressed for a rapid response to recent reports on the sterilizations

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

Huitema was captain of Canada’s fourth-place team at this year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup

Canada not slowing emissions from oil and gas: environmental groups

New report released at the United Nations climate talks in Poland

Liberal Party moves Trudeau fundraiser from military base

The fundraiser is scheduled for Dec. 19, with tickets costing up to $400

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

Most Read