April 14, 2014 - 9:10 AM
KELOWNA – The rising cost of living has The Central Okanagan Board of Education scrambling to find millions of dollars by the end of June.
Board chair Moira Baxter says expenses beyond their control, such as utility and gas costs, have left them with a budgetary gap of approximately $4 million.
“We’ve still got the same amount of money,” she says. “It’s not that we have had cuts, we have to find $4 million dollars within the budget because what we get now won’t cover the extra costs that we’re having.”
Baxter says although their budget will remain at $178 million, less money will actually be available to them as a result of increased costs.
“It’s going to mean some difficult decisions,” she says. “We don’t actually have a plan yet. What we do have is a list of recommendations from the Superintendent that add up to around $4 million.”
The list will be sent to the Finance Committee next week, when three trustees will forward a recommendation to the Board.
The Board has until April 23 to make a decision, with the final budget due by end of June.
Some of the recommendations include cutting technology funding, discretionary budgets for senior administrators, maintenance and budget increases for inflation. Board Superintendent Hugh Gloster is also recommending the average funding per student be reduced from $4,500 to $4,430.
“Every time we make cuts it is significant,” Baxter says. “Trustees from around the province have approached the government when we heard that B.C. Hydro and Fortis costs were going up and asked that these increases not be downloaded to school districts but the government said no. I realize they are in a difficult position but we obviously feel that education should be a priority.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014