While the new provincial budget calls for school districts to find administrative savings of $54 million over the next two years, exactly how much School District No. 46 (SD46) will have to cut remains unclear.
“There’s been lots of speculation, but I’m not really sure how this district will be affected until we get our funding announcement in mid-March,” secretary treasurer Nicholas Weswick said this week. “The provincial budget comes out and that gives the funding folks at the ministry a total number, a gross amount of overall funding, and then the funding specialists at the ministry break that up and distribute that to school districts and work it through their funding allocation formula.”
Meanwhile, school board trustees are anxious to see what the impacts will be.
“The board is very concerned about funding, since the 2012/13 CUPE contract increases were not funded and added three per cent labour costs. Since then we have had major hydro increases, MSP premium increases and Worksafe premium increases, all with no increase in funding,” said SD46 board chair Betty Baxter.
“The ministry said they would fully fund the teacher agreement and CUPE agreement of 2014, so to add those funds and then ask for $54 million over two years is bound to hurt. Our read so far is that this year and next year’s budgets will be very tight. Exactly how is unknown until we see what the per student funding levels are,” Baxter said.
The provincial budget, released on Feb. 17, requires school districts to reduce spending on administration and related services by $29 million in the upcoming school year and another $25 million in the 2016/17 school year.
“It’s not an easy time for education, and this provincial budget was a big disappointment,” Baxter added.