School district moves closer to final budget

On Monday at Trail Middle School, School District 20 held a open meeting to discuss further cuts to balance the budget.

 

The big cuts came early – now it is a matter of reorganizing facilities and shifting costs, as the deadline looms for School District 20 (SD20) to produce and enact a balanced budget for the 2013/14 year.

On Monday at Trail Middle School (TMS), SD20 Superintendent Greg Luterbach, held an open public meeting to present further cuts he is recommending to balance the budget next year.

With a deficit of over $500,000 to be balanced in its fourth draft,  the proposed operating budget for the 2013 school year has very little wiggle room.

“The biggest thing that happened is that we had to reorganize facilities in Rossland, Blueberry and Castlegar,” said Mark Wilson SD20 trustee.

“Now, without losing teachers, number one is that we didn’t have to cut the services to students or increase the size of the classrooms, which was an option at the start.”

In efforts to reduce administration costs, SD 20 will be eliminating another elementary vice principal (VP) position.

Luterbach explained that because Fruitvale Elementary School (FES) has almost the same enrolment as Glenmerry and Kinnaird, where those positions were cut a few years ago, FES will lose its vice principal and make it “equal” across the board.

“The only elementary VP left is at the Twin Rivers/Castlegar Primary, which has two physical campuses and 440 students,” he explained.

The projected savings for the operating budget from these cuts is $18,000 this year, and an additional $23,000 next year, said Luterbach.

A restructure in the information technology department is projected to reduce costs by almost    $100,000.

By reducing (in half) iPads, lap tops and lab allocations to secondary schools, Luterbach projects to net a savings of $72,000.

“Students will still get school-based mobile devices, but this plan will stretch it out from four to six years,” he said.

Additionally, moving a site specific technician to a help-desk based structure is projected to save $25,000.

In efforts to cut spending by $20,000, the board is considering selling or sub-leasing its current office space in the Fortis Building, and moving the location to East Trail.

“We have space at TMS to house all our staff and services, and we are looking into this for September,” explained Luterbach.

The sale of Sunningdale School for $70,000 this spring,  means a reduction of $10,000 in the utilities budget as SD20 no longer has to heat or secure the former school site.

Additionally, the elimination of all utilities, custodial and otherwise, from Blueberry Creek and the Warfield satellite maintenance shop will net a savings of almost $30,000.

Although closing facilities and reducing custodial duties is a cost saving measure, during the open question period after the presentation, Roger Smith, representing CUPE Local 1285, addressed the human toll that is being felt by the cuts.

Staff is getting older and stressed out, with people at their breaking point, said Smith.

“We are feeling like our jobs have become a liability for a budget.”

In a closed meeting today at TMS, Smith and other members from CUPE, KCTU, and DPAC will have an opportunity to address the board to discuss the proposed cuts.

The trustees will be discussing the budget at its second reading on April 29, at the Blueberry Creek School.

On May, 3, a special open board meeting will held at TMS at 6 p.m. at which time the budget will be enacted after a third reading.

For detailed information on the budget, visit SD20.bc.ca.

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