Budget cuts from province, declining enrolment mean staff cuts at Kamloops school district - InfoNews

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Budget cuts from province, declining enrolment mean staff cuts at Kamloops school district

FILE PHOTO - A grade one class at Parkcrest Elementary in Kamloops.
April 23, 2016 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - As Kamloops schools see declining enrolment, provincially mandated administrative cuts are compounding budget issues for School District 73.

Supt. Karl deBruijn says the district will have to reduce their budget by $2.45 million for next year. This comes from two issues he says: declining enrolment with 312 fewer students expected next school year and a provincially mandated administrative cut of $1.4 million.

“We’re meeting this challenge by decreasing staff positions,” deBruijn says.

To balance the budget, which the district is statutorily obligated to do, he says positions will be cut, with 14.9 fewer teaching positions, 3.3 fewer support staff and two fewer principals.

The position cuts won’t affect classes sizes he says, as the ratio of teachers to students will be maintained by the lowered enrolment. He’s hoping teachers leaving the district for reasons like retirement and maternity leave will make up the lost positions, but it’s not clear yet.

“We’re hoping we wont have to do formal layoffs,” he says. “That’s just uncertain at this point. People are still submitting letters of resignation.”

The lost positions will make up the majority of the budget savings, but he says everything is being looked at, from paper to fuel. Additionally, he says, the closure of Stuart Wood elementary is helping the bottom line, with one fewer school open.

Decreased enrolment accounted for a $2.25 million decrease in provincial funding deBruijn says, which is directly correlated to the 312 fewer students; the $1.4 million decrease was provincially mandated for all districts. Thanks to an option to not pay into the teachers pension fund this year the district was able to reduce the total from $3.7 million down to $2.45 million, he says.

School District 73 shouldn’t have had to decrease their administrative budget deBruijn says, as it’s already the lowest of any district of comparable size — around $2 million lower.

“I wish they would look individually at the districts,” he says. “They’re punishing the masses for the sins of a few.”

In addition to stable class sizes he says the district will maintain supports for special needs and custodial services, despite the cuts.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 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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