Preliminary Nanaimo school district budget allows for more high school teachers

NANAIMO – School district could see more high school teaching staff next school year.

Nanaimo school district could see more high school teaching staff next school year.

During a budget proposal presentation Wednesday, Superintendent John Blain said the six extra full-time equivalent teachers would support student learning and create more flexibility for students in secondary school.

According to the Ministry of Education, Nanaimo high schools average 26.3 students a class, above the provincial average of 23.4, and the district said reducing this would benefit students.

“It also fits some of the pieces that we’ve got with the transition work that we’ve got around Woodlands, Cedar  – all those sorts of things. It gets us over the hump so we can find where our students are going to be going,” Blain said.

The additions would cost $616,000 and money would come from the department of learning services’ budget.

The proposal also identifies $970,000 in cuts in order for the budget to be balanced. Two full-time equivalent carpenters and about 1.34 grounds crew workers could be among the cuts, leading to a $273,834 savings.

Furthermore, five full-time equivalent janitorial positions could be lost in a move that could save $303,455.

The district anticipates a surplus of $500,000.

The district said it adheres to American School Business Officials’ Planning Guide for Maintaining School Safety, with Level 1 being cleaning found at a hospital and Level 5 being that which can lead to an unhealthy situation. Nanaimo’s goal is to maintain a 3.5 rating and 3 is the norm for school facilities.

Rob Zver, president of the support workers’ union, said he’s concerned about the cleanliness of schools. Seeing as there is a surplus, cuts to janitorial don’t need to happen, he said.

“The district doesn’t need to make these cuts. They can afford to maintain the current staffing level,” said Zver.

Mike Ball, district teachers’ union president, is happy to see more teachers, but not job cuts.

“Putting teachers back into secondary classes, so they can reduce the class sizes, is always going to be a good thing. It’s just a shame it comes at the cost of other jobs,” Ball said.

The school board is tentatively scheduled to adopt the budget on May 4.

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