Vernon School District bracing for cuts

Government dictates $437,000 in cuts in 2015/16, rising to $814,000 the following year

More cuts are looming for the Vernon School District.

The provincial government requires $437,000 of cuts in non-instructional costs in the 2015/16 school year, rising to $814,000 in 2016/17.

“Our school district has suffered many cuts in funding in recent years. Finding further efficiencies without impacting our students will be very challenging,” said Kelly Smith, board chairperson.

The school district spent $59.4 million of its operating grant on instruction, $9.7 million on district administration, operations and maintenance, and $2.2 million on transportation (busing students to and from school) in the 2013/14 school year.

“We’re already spending about $0.9 million or nine per cent less on administration, operations and maintenance than our peers. That has kept desperately needed resources in the classroom,” said Joe Rogers, superintendent.

“But we need an efficient administrative system and clean, safe and functioning schools – and that doesn’t come for free.”

The school district has forecast a small decrease in regular enrolment of 20 students to 7,820 students in September 2015. The projected provincial operating grant for the district in 2015/16 is $71.8 million.

“We also face inflationary pressures. MSP premiums, CPP contributions, irrigation charges, and many other supplies and services are increasing in cost,” said Adrian Johnson, acting secretary-treasurer.

“This, combined with the administrative cuts imposed by the province, will mean we’re looking for well over $1 million in cost reductions by 2016/17. That’s equivalent to the cost of the teaching staff in an entire elementary school.”

Members of the public are invited to attend a public meeting at the Schubert Centre at 6.30pm April 1 to provide input into the district’s 2015/16 budget.