District hires consultant to find ways to fix deficit

A former Ministry of Education finance director has been hired as a consultant to figure out how New Westminster's 2011-12 budget came in with a $2.8 million deficit, and to determine how to fix it.

Joan Axford was director of school finance for the ministry from 1990 to 1998. She has also served as secretary-treasurer with the Saanich school district. She is also on the board of trustees for the B.C. teachers' pension plan which she was appointed to by the province in 2001.

"We are extremely fortunate to have Ms. Axford working with us as part of our deficit recover process," said New Westminster board chair James Janzen in a press release. "Her depth of experience in the area of school finance, her background and epertise with budget processes, and her provincial reputation and experience in working with the Ministry of Education will assist us greatly in developing an effective budget development and management plan that will serve us well in the months and years to come."

Axford will also review the 2012-13 budget to determine if it has been affected by what led to the deficit, prepare a deficit repayment plan, devise a stakeholder consultation process and "recommending changes in policies, procedures, and practices to achieve effective accountability and transparency in budget matters at all levels of the organization."

In 2011, Axford received an honourary life membership from the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

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