More school cuts up for discussion in Nanaimo
More proposed budget cuts are on the table for Nanaimo school trustees to consider.
Last week, district staff presented trustees with $1.4 million in proposed budget reductions to balance next year's budget.
Sharon Welch, school board chairwoman, said trustees asked staff to bring forward further reduction options totalling at least $500,000 to a business committee meeting Wednesday.
She said trustees want some alternatives to the initial 18 budget strategies in case some of these strategies are unpopular and also in the event that the school calendar change strategy – extending spring break by an extra five days, which is expected to save half a million dollars – is voted down.
"I thought if we did it up front, then we could see what the choices are," said Welch.
Some of the nine new strategies, which shave an additional $561,000 from the budget, are deeper cuts in the same areas: further reductions to school-based administrators, custodians, the secondary staffing supplement for courses offered outside the regular timetable, the information systems budget, and eliminating the early years coordinator position entirely instead of reducing it to half-time.
Other options include reducing school clerical positions, not replacing certain staff on the first day of absence – a budget strategy in this year's budget that proved unpopular with employees and was therefore not considered at first – and reducing replacement costs in the maintenance department.
While trustees did not make any motions to accept, defeat or amend any of the proposed cuts, they did discuss some of the concerns people brought up at the public meeting on Monday to receive feedback on next year's budget.
At Monday's meeting, people expressed concerns about a number of the proposed cuts, including proposals to eliminate child, youth and family support workers from elementary schools; reduce the hours of community school coordinators, teacher-librarians and the secondary teacher staffing supplement for courses offered outside the standard timetable; and reductions to the maintenance department budget.
Welch said trustees realize that the child, youth and family support workers provide extra support to vulnerable students, but some are questioning whether social work is the role of the public school system.
"Are we simply taking on more of the burden because somebody else isn't?" she said. "There's no doubt that families need support. But we can only do so much as educators."
Budget discussions will continue Wednesday (April 20). Trustees hope to approve a balanced budget on April 27.