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Million dollars is nice but stable funding would be better, Central Okanagan school board chair says

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June 02, 2016 - 2:30 PM

CENTRAL OKANAGAN - They’re happy not to have to cut so deep but the chair of the Central Okanagan school district says the way the province demands “administrative savings” only to rescind the request leaves them operating in the dark.

“Sometimes we don’t know whether we are coming or going,” Moyra Baxters says. “We’ve been going through this every spring but it’s not in anyone’s best interest to operate like this.”

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education announced the district would not have to cut the nearly $1 million from its 2016-2017 budget it had originally asked to find.

Baxter says the school district is delighted to have the extra cash but the way it is handled is not sustainable.

“That is why our board and I think every other school board in the province have consistently asked for stable, multi-year funding,” she says. “And it’s not just the school boards. The bipartisan select committee on finance has made the same recommendation. I’m quite comfortable saying it flies in the face of what we’ve been asking for.”

Baxter says the board's finance commitee will meet next week to discuss what to leave in and what to leave out of the $3.2 million it was planning to cut from the district’s estimated $220 million budget.

The single largest planned cut was $660,000 from money given to the district’s 43 individual schools based on enrollment. Schools can use the money, albeit with some restrictions, as they see fit, Baxter says.

“The schools know their needs much better than central office,” she says.

Increasing revenue by charging more for school busing is also on the table, as is a reduction by attrition in custodial staff and a straight budget cut to technology services.

By law, school boards must pass balanced budgets by the end of June and Baxter says staff are already considering the new financial information.

Find more stories on Central Okanagan school board budgets here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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