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School district still seeking savings to pay for CUPE raises
It will be another couple weeks before Burnaby school district announces how it plans to fund negotiated raises for Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) school support workers.
District secretary-treasurer Greg Frank said the raises will cost almost $1.6 million annually and will be funded by a combination of surpluses, savings and efficiencies, and specific cuts.
"There are areas spread throughout the district that we're looking at," said Frank, who was unable to provide details just yet.
As for surpluses, the plan is to allocate just under $900,000 towards the wage hikes, although he stressed it's a one-time use of surpluses for the 2013-2014 year.
He said budget adjustments will be required to pay for the contract over the long term, which has yet to be ratified by CUPE Local 379, which represents support workers in the Burnaby district.
"We've been able to finish the last number of years with modest surpluses at the end of the year," said Frank.
But the provincial government has instructed that surpluses can only be used towards the 2013-2014 year, simply because future surpluses can't be predicted.
"My understanding is they want to ensure the savings plans are sustainable for future years."
The $900,000 is about half of the district's accumulated surpluses from the end of last school year and the other half will be used as part of next year's budgeting process, he said.
"Our three-year budget which we did last year was projecting a shortfall for [2014-2015] of about $6 million and we have not yet updated those figures but we know we have budget challenges ahead of us."
The district's enrolment numbers do provide a glimmer of good news.
While the number of secondary students in the district is declining due to cyclical changes in the population's demographics, the number of elementary students is slightly above the district's projections.
"It does generate additional revenue but then we're also required to make sure we have the right supports in place for those additional students, so they come with their own series of costs as well," Frank said. "But we'd much rather be in a situation where our enrolment is slightly over budget instead of under."
CUPE 379 members are holding their ratification vote on Nov. 9.