Central Okanagan School Board trustees are pondering several recommendations to make up for a $1.5 million shortfall in education funding in its 2015 budget deliberations including increasing the amount parents pay to bus their kids to school.
The school board’s finance committee heard several cost saving moves from school superintendent Hugh Gloster on Wednesday night as the district tries to balance its budget by increasing some revenue and decreasing expenses.
The recommendations at this point are just that, as the school board’s finance committee will meet again next Wednesday to debate the recommendations before the entire school board will decide on what recommendations to follow at its April 29 board meeting.
“I think it’s going to be difficult,” said finance committee chair Lee Mossman. “It’s not going to be an easy thing to do and we’ll try to mitigate the impact to students first and foremost.”
When it comes to transportation, it’s being recommended to increase the cost for busing from $10 to $20 per month ($200 per year) a move the district first made in 2009 but then cut in half in subsequent years. However putting it back to the $20 per month rate would earn the district an extra $400,000, according to a report by Gloster.
A further $230,000 would be earned if the district increased enrolment in its International Education Program by some 25 international students who pay the district to attend school in the area.
In terms of decreasing expenses, the report from Gloster pointed to several areas that could be cut to make up for the funding shortfall. The operations department, which has the largest budget of any school district department at close to $18 million, would take the biggest hit with a $275,000 cut. Among the cuts would be a reduction in the number of summer students hired, the elimination of video surveillance equipment and a reduction of one special needs bus.
Other cuts could come from the reducing the budget for technology software ($100,000), reducing departmental budgets targeting travel, food and promotional materials ($40,000) and chopping the budgets for several school district committees.
A further $300,000 could be saved by not funding any inflationary increases.
At this point the school board finance committee has heard the recommendations and will meet again next Wednesday when it will make its own recommendations to the school board, which will meet April 29 to make final decisions on the cuts.