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Closures not in cards

School district must deal with $1.1 million budget shortfall

The local school board is looking for ways to find $1.1 million dollars to balance its budget and Lynette Kershaw says school closures are “the very last thing we would contemplate.”

Kershaw, the board chair, said they are in the first stages of this year’s budget process and haven’t delved into the details yet.

But she and other board members said they will stay true to the platform they were elected on, intent on keeping schools open.

“It’s clear to the board that all communities, the schools that are in the communities, are special central places to them, so any kind of school closures would be the very last thing we would contemplate.”

A draft budget is set to be tabled by the end of March, Kershaw said, and in the meantime the board will be gathering information from staff and engaging the public and stakeholder groups.

• Meanwhile. the local board has been asked to find money in its current budget to fund wage increases for support staff workers.

It’s called the Cooperative Gains Mandate, and a letter regarding it was sent out to school boards across the province asking them to free up 1.5 per cent savings in district operations from their existing budgets.

“That was for this budgetary year and we’re already halfway through it, so to find one and half per cent right now was virtually impossible,” said Lynette Kershaw.

The ministry asked that the savings plan was to be competed by mid-January and without impacting educational programs.

• Numbers are up for the International Student Program in the district, resulting in additional revenues of $145,000 for the year. With the increase of ISP students at the secondary schools additional staffing funds of $63,000 were necessary, said assistant superintendent Rollie Koop.