SD72 cuts clerical staff to balance budget

The board of education decided to reduce services by $115,000 and use approximately $165,000 from operational reserves

School District 72 will cut office staff and dip into its savings to offset several additions to its 2012/2013 budget.

The district was looking at a $122,000 shortfall and, at the same time, trying to accommodate additions, including a new teaching position.

At a special meeting May 1, the board of education decided to reduce services by $115,000 and use approximately $165,000 from operational reserves to allow for the budget additions.

“The proposed budget reduction of $115,000 results in an equivalent decrease of approximately 2.5 full-time equivalent positions in clerical staffing,” said a news release. “The reduction will be done largely through using the existing, historical clerical staffing formula already in place.”

Peter Neale, secretary-treasurer for the school district, said the board had been considering cutting full-time educational assistant positions.

“The reduction may be in full-time positions, part-time positions, or in the number of hours EA’s (educational assistants) will work in the day,” he said last week.

Instead, trustees elected to go with cutting clerical staff.

The board also voted to create innovation and community support teaching positions to the budget, as well as an executive leadership search to recruit and hire a new secretary-treasurer to compensate for Neale’s recent resignation.

Other additions to the budget include an increased investment in school technology; increased preparation days for principals of small schools; and the development of a revised district policy and administration regulations toolkit.

“While the district was not facing as significant a shortfall as recent years, any decision to reduce or not add services is always difficult and made in careful consideration of our students’ needs,” said trustee Michele Babchuk, chair of the board of education. “We would like to thank all our stakeholder groups for their participation in the budget process.”

School District 72 created a Budget Function Committee made up of the teachers’ association, CUPE, Campbell River principals and vice-principals, student leadership groups, senior management and district parent advisory councils.

The group debated the budget extensively through a series of meetings over the past year.

The 2012/2013 budget is expected to be finalized and adopted by the board of education at its public meeting May 15.