Two North Okanagan school districts are feeling the pinch each planning to slash over a million dollars from existing budgets in order to balance the books.
There will likely be changes at North Okanagan schools in September as boards try to balance their budgets for next school year. In the Vernon School District the cuts total over $1.4-million and layoff notices are expected to go out next week. The head of the local teachers union expecting the impact to be felt by students with larger classes and less teacher time for students.
The cuts have Heather Malcolm the president of the Vernon Teachers’ Association very concerned, “When you first start it’s like a paper cut but now for twelve years now it’s becoming like an amputation because they’ve been cutting for so long.”
It’s a similar story in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, which includes Salmon Arm and Armstrong, there they are facing a shortfall of over 1.8 million. They plan to cut funding for everything from teacher librarian positions to speech pathologists to balance the books. The superintendent blames the deficit in part on declining enrollment but says the bigger issue is that costs are going up and those increases aren’t being covered by the province.
“Hydro, pension costs, benefits, wages go up and there is no corresponding increase in the amount of money that comes, “ said Glen Borthistle the superintendent of the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District, “We don’t really have much of a choice right in order to meet the balanced budget we have to reduce services somewhere.”
Officials from both school districts say they’re bringing their concerns to Victoria either through letter writing or meetings with provincial officials.