Education cuts heading for main school board meeting in Kelowna

Several recommendations including transportation charge as trustees grapple with mandated $1.3 million reduction

It appears dipping into parents pocket-books will make up the largest share of a $1.3 million dollar shortfall in the amount of money the provincial government is providing for education in the Central Okanagan.

The Central Okanagan School Board’s finance and legal committee has made 14 recommendations on how to balance its budget for the coming school year, including a $400,000 savings to charge parents who bus their kids to school.

The school board was mandated to make the cuts by the province as part of a $29 million reduction across B.C. and school boards were tasked with finding the savings in areas that did not directly affect students in the classroom.

Among the recommendations that will be presented to the entire school board next Wednesday at its regular meeting is the transportation charge, which will increase to $200 per student per year.

Finance committee chair Lee Mossman said there was much debate on the different cuts but in the end, the savings had to be found and it was unfortunate parents will have to pay more.

“Unfortunately some of those costs are going to be passed on to families when it comes to transportation,” said Mossman. “I’m glad we were able to maintain a high quality of services without having to greatly impact the quality of education. But I’m disappointed. If there was any way we could have done this without impacting parents we would have. But we were put in this position and we had to find a way.”

Mossman said any parents who have a hardship and can’t pay the transportation fee will be dealt with on a case by case by basis and need to contact the school board office.

The other single largest cut comes in the district’s operating budget by $275,000 while more money will come into the district with an increase in international students as well as an expansion of the district Worksafe BC shared service.

The entire school board will hear the recommendations at its April 29 meeting before voting on them.