Vancouver School Board dips into reserves to save some programs

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver School Board has passed its budget for next year but not before dipping into its capital reserves to save some popular programs.

The board was dealing with a budget shortfall of about $11 million, prompting students and parents to lobby for their favourite programs to be spared.

Ultimately, the board voted to dip into it’s long-term contingency fund, saving the district’s Athletic Coordinator position along with band and strings programs.

However, the solution is only temporary, since the board will likely be faced with an even higher shortfall next year and a crippled contingency fund.

“We generally keep a reserve fund of about, it should be in the neighbourhood of $5 million on a budget our size,” said Patti Bacchus, board chair. “We have a half-billion a year budget. We are really draining as I said in the meeting, this is a ‘Hail Mary’ budget.”

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“It could certainly set us up for some challenges next year if we have lower than an estimated enrollment, if we have fewer international students, if we run into a bad flu year and we have higher TOC costs, a whole number of factors the reason why we keep a few million dollars in reserve,” she added.

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