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Prince Rupert School District budget projects job loss

The Prince Rupert School District (SD52) may have to drop at least one teaching position to balance its budget for 2014-2015.

In a budget consultation meeting last Wednesday, SD52 administration officials said the district will need to find $150,000 in savings to meet its balanced budget mandate.

SD52 secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre broke down what the budget looks like presently, saying the district is expecting to receive $26,148,000 in operational funding.

The district has to act after receiving $372,000 less from the B.C. Ministry of Education because of the province's funding protection model and when the costs of wages and supplies are taken into consideration, the district is looking at a $781,000 deficit.

There is about $690,000 in surplus funds in SD52's capital reserve that can be used in next year's budget, but the shortfall grows as the district is planning to take $45,000 from its capital reserve to replace vehicles, as well as $12,000 it is obligated to put toward future employee benefits.

That leaves SD52 with a projected deficit of $148,000.

"Between now and the meeting when the budget is approved, we still have work to do to make sure it is balanced," said McIntyre.

The budget's content depends on student numbers, with a loss of more than 30 students being forecasted next year.

This has led to the decision to possibly cut one teaching position in 2014, with more staffing reductions also possible.

"The place that it will be felt is at Charles Hays Secondary School. That's where the majority of the [student decrease is expected to come from]," said McIntyre.

Currently more than 85 per cent of all the district’s costs are spent on employee wages and benefits, with employee benefits going up next school year. This amount could increase once again after upcoming negotiations between the province and the PRDTU and IUOE.

“Our hope in this round is that whatever the outcome is that it is funded by the government. There isn’t any particular provision at this point in the budget for any increases or whatever will come of that,” McIntyre said.

There are some expected savings in the budget, including approximately $50,000 in utility bills because of energy-efficient upgrades the district hopes will be complete by the end of summer (see related story on Page B2).

Additionally, the director of instruction position will continue to be on a half-time basis, something that has saved money this year.

According to Kathy Murphy, president of the PRDTU, the group made a plea to prevent class composition issues that occurred in Prince Rupert classes this year from happening again.

It is unknown whether SD52 will make class composition restrictions in the coming year.

Despite having the opportunity, members of the public did not make recommendations regarding the budget at the meeting.

The 2014/2015 school year budget will be brought to the board for approval at its meeting on April 8. The budget must be approved by April 30.

 

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