NEWS File Photo School Board SD69 (Qualicum) passed an amended budget at its Jan. 23 board meeting, which included a long-awaited increase in funding to pay for increased costs due to reinstated union language around smaller classroom sizes.

Prov. makes good on SD69 class funding

Board passes amended budget, includes increase in ministry funding

In the wake of concern last March that the Ministry of Education had not initially provided School Board 69 (Qualicum) sufficient funds to deal with re-instated union language around class sizes, the ministry has since handed over those funds.

At the SD69 school board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, trustees passed an amended annual budget bylaw that saw the 2017/18 fiscal year budget grow to $55,486,747 from the $52,791,058 passed in the original budget bylaw on May 23.

Some of those additional funds came from the increase to SD69’s Classroom Enhancement Fund, created to hire new teachers and specialty teachers required as a result of the 2016 Supreme Court decision that restored teacher union language around smaller classroom sizes.

SD69 had originally been given $1,424,487 plus $344,409 for overhead from this fund, raising alarm with former Mount Arrowsmith Teachers’ Association president Norberta Heinrichs, as well as school board administration during a March, 2017 meeting.

“I’m very concerned,” said Heinrichs at the time. “My fear is that we are going to have fewer (teachers).”

In an interview after that meeting, the school board’s secretary-treasurer, Ron Amos, said, “At this juncture, with the money that we’ve got, it isn’t enough to keep the staff we have.”

He nonetheless said the district would have opportunities to justify more CEF funding. Specifically, $956,313 was later requested. However, in June, the ministry pledged $400,000 in funding.

“This is halfway there,” said board chair Eve Flynn at the time. “It’s positive.”

This December, the ministry provided additional CEF funding, totalling more than $3.2 million.

Other increases in the budget come from an operating grant recalculation based on firm enrolment numbers which amounted to an additional $634,166.

The International Student Program will also provide $400,000 more to the budget through tuition.

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