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Budget challenges face district

The Vernon School District is bracing for financial challenges once again.

Trustees were told Wednesday that the proposed  2014/15 budget includes $1.2 million in cost pressures. However, it’s premature to say whether any cuts will be needed.

“We’ll have to address them (costs) and find a way to fund them,” said Bill Turanski, chairperson.

As part of budget planning, a public information meeting will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Vernon Secondary School’s library.

“We will talk to the public about what programs should be maintained,” said Bernie Weiss, assistant secretary-treasurer, adding that suggestions for cost savings will also be sought.

Among the cost pressures are $439,391 annually for the CUPE labour settlement, $25,398 for higher Worksafe B.C. rates and $92,857 because a slight hike in enrolment may lead to the district losing provincial funding protection.

And there is a projected $135,848 increase for B.C. Hydro.

“We have a fairly big usage of hydro in the district,” said Weiss.

The district is making several assumptions at this point including that government funding for special program enrolment will stay the same, as will overall summer, February and May enrolments. It also anticipates the average teacher salary will remain the same.

The public input session will be a chance for parents, residents, teachers and support staff to meet directly with district officials about the budget.

“We will start talking about what it looks like for the coming financial year,” said Weiss.

From there, the 2014/15 budget will be refined until it is adopted in the spring.

“We want to find ways to reduce costs while maintaining services for students,” said Joe Rogers, superintendent.

The district has cut about $20 million from its budgets since 1999.

 

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