The Quesnel Board of Education will be reducing custodial staff and its technology budget, along with other measures to balance the 2018/19 budget, it announced today (May 17).
A press release from the Quesnel School District says the board is facing a shortfall of $287,067 in its operating budget. This is despite the $115,000 savings of moving to a two-week Spring Break trial for the 2018/19 school year.
The release says the shortfall is partially due to decreased enrollment, reduced revenue and increased cost pressures mainly due to mandated salary increases and the new Employer’s Health Tax.
As a result, the Board will reduce custodial staffing by 1.75 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, due to the downsizing of Quesnel Junior School, with a saving of $99,453.
It is also reducing its budget for 3.0 FTE teaching staff roles, with a cost-saving of $285,459, but Board of Education chair Gloria Jackson says this may not mean a reduction in teachers at Quesnel’s schools.
“We applied for a Classroom Enhancement Fund and we are confident we will get it. We will know by the end of May. That will put 2.7 FTE back into the teaching staff budget,” she explains.
Jackson says they received the funding last year, and it is part of a Memorandum of Understanding agreed to by the Ministry of Education and the British Columbia’s Teacher’s Federation.
“No one will be laid off, but we have quite a few TOCs [teachers on call], so anyone who is not on a continuing contract will reapply for the positions available in the district.”
She says custodial staff at QJS will see cuts as the school moves to Maple Drive, with the new location having a smaller footprint than the downtown school.
“But we are adding a custodial foreperson back in. They will be part-time as a custodian and part-time as a foreman – so dropping off supplies, checking in with staff and acting as a contact person for staff,” she says.
The Board is also adjusting its technology budget by $60,000, back to 2017 levels due to the removal of a one-time Student Learning Grant received last year; and cutting $74,754 from its supplies and miscellaneous budget.
The cuts leave a surplus of $232,599, and the Board of Education is adding $48,765 to this from its accumulated operating surplus funds. These funds have been allocated for necessary expenses including:
- $91,981 for additional education assistants (2.4 FTE);
- $43,232 for additional resource teacher time (0.5 FTE);
- $60,775 for additional vice-principal time shared between schools;
- $44,855 for a custodial foreperson;
- $13,847 for finance team system implementation support; and
- $73,804 for staff wage adjustments for principals, vice-principals, managers and the district administrator.
The school district received $47,000 in Rural Education Enhancement Funding for the equivalent of one full-time education assistant. This will pay for the part-time staff placed at Kersley and Parkland Elementary Schools.
The above measures will give the Board of Education a balanced budget for the 2018/19 fiscal year.