Next budget deficit: School District 72

School District 72 must cut $122,000 in order to balance its 2012/2013 budget

School District 72 must cut $122,000 in order to balance its 2012/2013 budget.

Peter Neale, secretary-treasurer for the school district, said based on discussions with the Budget Function Committee (comprised of the teachers’ association, CUPE, Campbell River principals and vice-principals, parents and senior management) the focus will be on minor reductions.

“Conversations would indicate a reluctance of stakeholders to recommend a complete elimination of services in specific areas,” said Neale, in a memo to the board of education. “Proposals for reductions will be exhaustive in all areas.

“Where possible, (informationon) impacts to student learning and operations will be provided.”

The board of education was considering reducing staffing levels, as well as cutting one of the seven school trustee positions, at a special board meeting Tuesday night after the Mirror went to press.

Reducing the number of trustees, as well as board costs, could save the district $15,000, according to Neale.

The school district is also considering cuts to full-time equivalent educational assistant positions.

Neale said the full-time equivalent is based on 35 hours per week, when in reality educational assistants work less than 35 hours per week to coincide with the school day and range from 20-28 hours per week.

“The number of actual positions (cut) would depend on if the reductions were in part-time positions or a general reduction in all hours for staff,” Neale said. “So…the reduction may be in full positions, part-time positions, or in the number of hours EA’s (educational assistants) will work in the day.”

That option would see the district use the current year, or 2011/2012 methodology for staffing educational assistants.

Neale said since that approach would cost about $300,000, half ($150,000) of that is being considered to “balance other priorities.”

The board will also look at reducing clerical staff by two-and-a-half full-time equivalent positions for a savings of $115,000.

“This option would see us reduce our staffing to our formula for clerical staffing and provide a cap to staffing at Timberline to 105 hours per week, maintaining 2011/2012 staffing,” Neale said.

The final piece to be considered is removing the GPS system in school buses – a savings of $5,000 – and discontinuing the software licensing fees for the GPS system. However, Neale said the system has proved its worth.

“Currently, the system is used to communicate to parents and management the location of our students and acts as a measure for efficiencies in the school district and safety for our students, particularly in the event of an emergency,” Neale said. “Considering annual costs, the benefits we are receiving are significant.”

School district stakeholders also brainstormed further savings that included:

n A bus review (consider working with the city for transportation).

n Small school closures.

n Consolidation of facilities.

n Investigation into abuse of employee benefits such as sick and/or bereavement leave.

n A review of shared field agreements with the city.

The budget is expected to be finalized and adopted at the board of education’s public meeting May 15 at the school board office.