Superintendent Hugh Gloster (Photo: Contributed)
Superintendent Hugh Gloster (Photo: Contributed)

Layoffs may be coming to SD23

by - Story: 54222

The board of trustees for the Okanagan School Division 23 paved the way for potential staff layoffs to make up for what they're calling a $4.7 million provincial funding shortfall.

The board passed the 2010/2011 school division budget in principle Wednesday night with trustee Moyra Baxter opposing, saying she wanted to make more changes.

Superintendent Hugh Gloster told board members that the reductions will mean 17 teaching positions, 22 support staff positions and 2.5 managerial positions will be eliminated. While that doesn't mean 41 people will lose their jobs, a number of vacant positions will not be filled and many staff will see their hours cut.

Gloster could not rule out the possibility of layoffs.

"What's really important here is that as a board, as a finance committee, we went through a significant amount of consultation over and above what we have done in previous years," says trustee Gail Givens, who is also the finance committee chair. "There isn't anybody that's happy with the funding that we're getting (from the Province)."

While the Province has increased funding to SD23 by $2.9 million, trustees and administrative staff say it's not enough to keep up with salary increases and programs that were slated to run in the 2010/2011 school year.

The projected operating budget for next year is $166 million.

CUPE Local 3523 president Bill Zeman says he's not happy with the cuts and puts the blame squarely on the province rather than the board. "If you watch the other school districts throughout the province, the same thing is happening all over the province. It's the funding levels that we're getting from the current government.

"The Liberal government just does not fund properly for K-12 education."

Zeman adds his members believe the lack of funding is a direct result of the province's Olympic debt load. Zeman also says he hopes most of the positions will be eliminated through attrition.

The board has until June to submit its final budget to the Province.

Other budget highlights:

  • The bus transportation levy on parents will remain at the same level of $20 a month per student, despite a motion from trustee Jeff Watson to increase it five per cent to $21 a month.
  • Families who apply for transportation assistance when there is no bus route will see their assistance funding capped at an average of $530 per month per family.
  • New bus runs will now not be approved unless 14 students will need to take that bus, up from the current seven. (this does not affect any current routes)
  • Reductions in everything from vehicle purchases to board administrative furniture and computer upgrades were recommended and passed.

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