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Tight finances may lead to fewer school trustees

North Okanagan-Shuswap school trustees have been swinging the budget axe, and they could be the next target.

The district is reviewing if the number of elected officials should be reduced from nine to seven.

“With continuing shortfalls, nothing escapes a look at possibly saving money,” said Chris Coers, Enderby trustee.

The board is moving ahead with $1.8 million in cuts, including fewer special education teachers, counselling staff, speech and language pathologists and teacher/librarians.

“It’s been pointed out by our employee groups that we have nine trustees and not many districts have nine,” said Coers, adding the current structure  occurred when the former Armstrong and Shuswap districts merged in 1996.

It’s anticipated that eliminating two trustees could save the district about $25,000 a year.

“The enrolment numbers in the outlying areas are declining so we thought we should look at it,” said Coers.

Cost savings aside, though, there are concerns that a reduction in trustees could negatively impact representation for communities in the district.

“Enderby is not Armstrong and Armstrong is not Sicamous,” said Coers.

Presently, there is one trustee each for Enderby, Falkland, Carlin/Sorrento, North Shuswap and Sicamous/Malakwa, two for Armstrong/Spallumcheen and two from Salmon Arm.

“The things that matter to the communities and families in Enderby may look different than elsewhere.”

Coers added that when the issue of cutting trustees has arisen before, many parents were opposed.

“They were not willing to sacrifice their voice for such a small amount of money.”

As part of the current review, municipalities and regional districts, as well as residents, will be consulted.

 

“We want to see what their thoughts are,” said Coers.

 

 

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