Widespread cuts possible as North Okanagan-Shuswap district struggles with deficit

Trustees presented with possible options for reducing expenditures

North Okanagan-Shuswap school trustees are preparing to swing the axe.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, secretary-treasurer Sterling Olson presented a long list of possible cuts which the board will have to consider as it works towards balancing the 2015/16 operating budget.

“We don’t have a complete and exhaustive list. Really what we’d like to do is float this out and through the feedback process maybe develop some additional items for consideration and then prioritize which would cause the least disruption,” he said.

The combination of $890,000 in additional cost pressures and a projected revenue decline of $984,035 results in a projected operating budget shortfall of $1.87 million for the coming school year.

Olson pointed out that just because an item is on the list does not mean it will be eliminated

The report identifies some $2.5 million in cuts, which is more than trustees need to make.

“Some suggestions are on the list but are placeholders and the financial savings have not yet been worked out,” he said.

“For example it was suggested we look at a four-day school week. None of these are recommendations. We are just trying to put together options to help the board through this challenging process.”

Reductions are being looked at in the areas of programming for students (such as reductions to deaf/hard of hearing, gifted, helping teachers, grief and mental health counselling) and in administration/operations/transportation (reducing vice-principal and principals’ time, clerical, education assistants, services and reducing supplies, payroll staff, and time for painters, electrician, carpenter and ground staff).

With the report compiled, superintendent Glenn Borthistle says the board and the public have a chance to see what is being considered.

“Although this is tough, let’s not lose sight of the fact we still have over a $59 million budget and employee nearly 700 people. We would all like to have more money but we still have a significant amount of funds that we have to make the best choices we can with,” he said.

“There is no doubt that in removing these items, if some become budget reductions, that our level of service will drop. We need to recognize that fact and transform our system to deliver the best education possible with the funds that we have.”