April 13, 2016 2:19 am
Updated: April 13, 2016 3:54 pm

VSB begins public consultations on budget shortfall

WATCH: The public got their first chance to voice their opinions Tuesday night on how the Vancouver School Board should tackle a record budget shortfall. Jill Bennett reports.

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The Vancouver School Board is grappling with a $24-million shortfall, which means teaching jobs, special education programs and music classes could be on the chopping block.

More than 30 delegations addressed the board at Vancouver Technical Secondary Tuesday on the first evening of public consultations about the proposed school budget cuts. Students and other members of the community also held a rally outside the school prior to the event.

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READ MORE: VSB urged to take drastic measures to deal with budget shortfall

“The bottom line is unless the government comes up with more money we have to make $24 million worth of cuts,” VSB Chair Mike Lombardi said.

Several students asked the board to not cut staff and programs.

Point Grey Mini School student Linnea Teichroeb spoke of how mini schools keep students “who are quirky and different engaged in school and away from bullying.”

The original budget proposal was revised after a $2.5-million funding increase from the province.

READ MORE: VSB budget crunch means no easy solutions at overcapacity school

But band and strings programs are still vulnerable — cutting them would save about $400,000.

“It’s quite unfair that we’re asking children to hand back instruments,” Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Musical Director Bramwell Tovey said. “This is no way to give children an example of how to enjoy one of the most important aspects of being a child. It just needs to be sorted out once and for all.”

It’s just one battle that will continue throughout the week with two more nights packed with delegations signed up to speak.

WATCH: Gifted education programs face Vancouver School Board funding cuts

The board will vote on a finalized budget at the end of the month.

– With files from Jill Bennett

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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