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Nanaimo school district staff recommends administration cuts

The Nanaimo school district business committee recommends against cuts to secondary school teacher librarians as part of the 2014-15 school budget.

The district faces a $5.4-million deficit and continued debating budget reductions at its meeting Monday night. While an initial proposal suggested teacher librarian cuts, the committee is recommending the board of trustees reject that measure. The move would have saved the district $353,683.

Business committee vice-chairman Bill Bard said he thinks the district needs teacher librarians and is against letting them go.

“I think we need our teacher librarians and I think that in the library commons model, there’s a very important role for them there, so I don’t think that getting rid of our teacher librarians and replacing them with a bunch of clerks is going to be acceptable for me,” Bard said.

The committee also is recommending rejection of a proposal that will eliminate five full-time equivalent custodial positions, a move which would have presented $290,020 in savings.

Following questions from support workers’ and teachers’ unions as to why administrative cuts weren’t part of the initial budget proposal, superintendent Dave Hutchinson presented options at the meeting that would see a savings of $390,959 in administrative costs.

Hutchinson’s proposal would see a human resources department executive assistant, the self-regulated learning coordinator and instructional coordinator positions abolished. It would also see some costs transferred, with the facilities planning supervisor cost added to the annual facilities grant budget and the capital project coordinator cost borne as part of the Wellington Secondary School seismic upgrade project.

Other recommendations include reducing the supplies budget for the superintendent’s department by $17,000 and to reduce the school equipment repairs budget by $40,000.

The committee also recommends that an unrestricted operating surplus of $1.5 million and $1 million held from this year’s budget be applied to soften the blow of the $5.4-million deficit.

Bard said deciding on cuts to deal with the deficit was a difficult process, adding it was an “insurmountable task,” as peoples lives would be affected.

None of the measures will be final until the committee makes its recommendations to the school board later this month.

The business committee continued budget discussions at another meeting last night, after press time, and the school district has until June 30 to pass its budget.

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