Rul­ing puts mil­lions back into cof­fers of dis­trict

No cuts to staffing, ser­vices or sup­plies will be re­quired for the up­com­ing year

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

Af­ter years of bud­get short­falls, the Cen­tral Okana­gan school dis­trict won’t have to make cuts for the up­com­ing school year. “We won’t have cuts in ser­vices like we’ve had in the past,” said Larry Paul, sec­re­tary-trea­surer with the dis­trict.

The dis­trict is re­ceiv­ing slightly more than $10 mil­lion from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment as part of Novem­ber’s Supreme Court of Canada rul­ing that re­stored class size and com­po­si­tion to the 2002 lev­els.

The dis­trict is also ex­pect­ing an in­creased en­rol­ment of about 300 stu­dents, for which it will re­ceive ad­di­tional per-pupil fund­ing.

“Given that we can main­tain all of our ser­vices with the in­creased fund­ing we’re get­ting, there will be no re­duc­tions in staffing, ser­vices or sup­plies,” said Paul.

Last year, the dis­trict had to cover a short­fall of $3.2 mil­lion to bal­ance its bud­get. The year be­fore that, there was a $2.7 mil­lion short­fall.

“A year that we can main­tain or in­crease ser­vices is a good year,” said Paul. “They don’t come very of­ten, and they are wel­come when they do.”

The dis­trict will be hir­ing more than 100 teach­ers for the up­com­ing school year as part of the re­in­stated col­lec­tive agree­ment terms, and the chal­lenge will be find­ing space for them, said Paul.

“We’re look­ing at mov­ing porta­bles, buy­ing porta­bles, find­ing tem­po­rary space.”

The dis­trict is also look­ing into con­vert­ing ex­ist­ing space such as com­puter labs into class­rooms.

Costs as­so­ci­ated with cre­at­ing space for new class­rooms will be

de­ter­mined then sub­mit­ted to the gov­ern­ment on April 28.

“We have to show them what our space chal­lenges are, our plan to ad­dress those space chal­lenges, and then give them a cost­ing of that and then we’ll open up dis­cus­sion with them on get­ting funds to sup­port that,” said Paul.

The dis­trict’s op­er­at­ing bud­get for the up­com­ing school year so far is $252 mil­lion, com­pared to last year’s op­er­at­ing bud­get of $234 mil­lion.

“If we have a year of no cuts and ad­di­tional re­sources go­ing into the class­rooms, that’s a great year,” said Paul.

“The big­gest thing is the fact that we will have a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of more teach­ers sup­port­ing kids next year.” Fi­nal adjustments to the bud­get can be made up un­til June 21.

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