Greater Trail layoffs unlikely in short term

School District 20 struggles to find funds for CUPE contract increases

 

After last week’s School District 20 board meeting, chair Darrel Ganzert said that the short term outlook for SD 20 should see no drastic cuts to cover the cost of the tentative agreement with CUPE members.

“We may have to put off some work that we were hoping to have done but labour peace comes at a price,” said Ganzert. “So, for the short term, we’re OK. I’m not so sure about the long term yet.”

The tentative deal reached two weeks ago between the B.C. Public School Employers and CUPE has local school districts around the province struggling to find the funding to cover a negotiated 3.5 per cent wage increase for non-teaching employees represented by CUPE.

The agreement, which has to be ratified by both sides by December, requires school districts to find the funding to cover the costs of the contract from existing budgets.

“We keep nickle and diming supplies and projects to find savings and have reduced staff in the past,” Ganzert said. “Hopefully in the long term we can save enough through attrition from retirements.”

Ganzert said he sees the effects of this agreement as being another indication of chronic under-funding of school districts by the province where a deal is negotiated and then left up to local authorities to find the funding to pay for it.

“This downloading has been going on forever,” he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that the government understands that they can’t expect us to keep funding their negotiated wage increases but time will tell.”