Superintendent of Schools Greg Luterbach begins explanation of the proposed SD20 budget Wednesday night at Trail Middle School before 40 people.

Proposed School District cuts draws backlash at Trail Middle School presentation

Superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach outlined operational budget cuts to a crowd that included union reps and teachers

  • Apr. 27, 2012 12:00 p.m.

Within the line items and numbers of any budget stand the people.

It is the people that make up the reality of any financial document, and on Wednesday night the people most affected by the budget of School District 20 stood up and spoke at a public meeting on the proposed plan at Trail Middle School.

Around 40 people, including union representatives and teachers, listened as superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach detailed proposed cut after cut needed to rein in the costs of the operation.

When the axe stopped, it was revealed the district was threatening to cut nearly 14 full time equivalent jobs across the board in the coming year to deal with a $1.55 million operating shortfall.

The proposed cuts to staff — including two teacher-librarians, almost eight teachers, three non-enrolling teacher staff, and one custodian — raised the ire of the crowd.

Cutting the teacher salaries meant the district would save $1.17 million in 2012/13, the largest chunk out of the $1.58 million in total cuts made.

Andy Davidoff, Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union representative, referred to the SD20 board’s guiding principle — that “Student learning drives our budget while recognizing the need to be sustainable and fiscally responsible” — and wondered why the board of trustees was keeping buildings over bodies.

“It looks like teachers and CUPE are bearing the brunt of the budget cuts and nothing is coming from administration that is significant at all, and that doesn’t seem to be fair,” he said.

“And, unfortunately, the people that impart that learning are taking the largest cut, over $1 million.”

Board chair Darrel Ganzert said there would be motions moving forward about facilities at the next board meeting — where the proposed budget would undergo its first two readings on the way to being adopted.

With custodial staff possibly being cut from 12-month to 11-month employees, and the district expecting to save $113,841, CUPE Local 1285 shop steward Darlene Schultz stood up.

“You can expect to pay that much money and more through arbitration because we feel our members have the right to the 12-month positions that they have, and there is significant jurisprudence on that,” she said.

“It is, in our opinion, discriminatory and it will be fought, right to the wall.”

Roger Smith, who has spent the last 23 years working with the district as a custodian, agreed.

He pointed to case law that says their jobs are set up for 12 months, and they will go to arbitration to ensure they stay that way.

“My question is, when we win, where is that back pay coming from in this budget?” he said, suggesting staff in every other area of operation should try going from 12 to 11 months.

“If you are going to do this, do it where everyone is a factor,” he said. “I don’t think senior management would like going from 12 to 11 months.”

It was far from a good news budget, with the district scrambling to cover a drop in funding from the Ministry of Education, and to cope with rising internal costs for sick leave that are now $400,000 over budget.

As a result, SD20 administration delivered a series of recommended budget adjustments for the coming school year totaling $1.58 million, expecting to leave the district with $27,430 in the bank at the end of the year.

There will also be a district-wide rise in student-to-teacher ratio — from 24-1 to 25-1 — that could impact the electives offered at the high school level.

Davidoff urged caution to the board before they sat down Monday night (7 p.m., Blueberry Creek Community School) to begin deliberation on the proposed budget.

“If you look at student learning, you assured us that it was the teachers, support workers and people that work with kids, that drive the kids to school, and clean up our schools and do all of that” that were more important than facilities, said Davidoff.

“But you have made (facilities) a priority. I don’t think the board has looked at their own statement.”

Ten committee meetings on the budget have contributed to the draft budget proposal, which the board will give consideration to in first and second reading on Monday night.

If approved, the budget cuts and changes will take effect July 1.

 

Proposed reductions and revenue generation items

Libraries• reduce elementary teacher-librarians by two full-time equivalent (FTE) – $184,508

Non-enrolling teacher staff• eliminate math teacher at elementary by two FTE – $184,508• eliminate literacy lead teacher at secondary by .714 FTE – $65,867

Teacher staffing• adjust secondary class sizes from 24 to 25 for a 2.428 FTE reduction – $223,983• eliminate staffing dedicated to virtual school by .286 FTE – $26,395• classroom organization based on elimination of required district averages at kindergarten and primary by 5.375 FTE – $495,865

Clerical support staff• clerical/library assistants reduced by 21 hours per week – $23,530• restructure CUPE callout and rentals by five hours per week – $7,589

Custodial• reduce high school service levels for custodial by one FTE – $43,319• change custodians from 12 month to 11-month employees – $113,841

Facilities• remove all SD20 staff and funding from Blueberry Creek Community School – $20,000• Sell Sunningdale School and save utility costs – $10,000

Service and supplies• eliminate regional Pro-D contractor – $6,000• eliminate grant to Education Heritage Society – $2,500

District administration• eliminate vice principal position at Glenmerry – $24,194

Technology• eliminate “helping infuse technology” release time to schools – $87,399

Transportation• change two 12-month drivers to 10-month drivers• parents pay for transportation if students attend a different school due to parent initiated transfer – $4,000• charge out of district children riding SD20 buses the full cost ($70 per month) – $24,000

Revenue generation• adjust rental policy to cover costs – $10,000• negotiate SD10 financial services contract to better reflect costs – $10,000

Savings from selected items: $1,584,801

Target for savings: $1,577,371

Budget position: $27,430

Source: superintendent of schools, Greg Luterbach

 

 

 

Just Posted

Kootenay fires grow — more evacuation alerts

Syringa fire prompts evacuation alerts plus HWY 3 closure and U.S. fire crosses into B.C.

Evacuation alert for Syringa and Deer Park

The Syringa Creek Fire grew Saturday resulting in evacuation alerts.

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Smoky skies force flight cancellations

Air quality in West Kootenay also a health concern

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Most Read