School board preparing to hear budget news Thursday; will have to make cuts

Central Okanagan School Board chair says district is already lean but more cuts will have to be made

The chair of the Central Okanagan School Board says this year’s budget deliberations are going to be very tough as school districts around the province are being asked to trim as much as $29 million in administrative costs across the province.

Moyra Baxter says the Central Okanagan is already running below the provincial average when it comes to administration and says she expects the province will ask Central Okanagan to chop between $900,000 and $1 million from administration.

“It’s not a status quo budget for sure. It will absolutely have to include cuts to administration,” said Baxter after this week’s regular school board meeting on Wednesday night. “We are already quite lean in that area. It’s very difficult comparing one school district to another. We all have different circumstances. But when you do compare percentage wise our administration is lower than the provincial average.”

School boards across the province are waiting to hear exact numbers as to how much they will have to trim. A conference call between the province and districts was expected to take place late Thursday when districts will receive budget allotments.

Whatever the exact number, trustees in the Central Okanagan are preparing for some hard decisions once again when they receive their budget allotment from the province. The school board has added an extra finance committee meeting to its schedule in April and pushed the final board meeting of April to the last Wednesday of the month, allowing for more time to find savings. The finance committee is expected to meet April 1, after spring break, to begin budget deliberations.

“When you look at the numbers the government will say how much more money they are putting into education,” said Baxter. “There is no doubt we will get more money this year because they are funding the teacher contract and the support staff contract so our budget is going to go higher. We know and expect that. But the increases are not going to cover inflation and extra expenses and then we have this $29 million figure (to cut) province-wide.”