Unused classes to close in Parksville Qualicum Beach

School District 69 decides to turn off utilities in un-used areas of schools to save money

Classrooms and possibly entire wings of local schools are going to be shut down next year to save money on utilities.

This measure was brought forward last week as one of the ways School District 69 could make up a $1.2 million deficit in next year’s budget.

At the school board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday, a representative from the district parents’ advisory council asked for confirmation on the closing of wings in the schools from secretary treasurer Erica Bailey at the meeting.

“We did target some savings in utilities and the approach to targeting those savings in utilities includes that where there are schools that are significantly empty, we are going to have to close off wings in order to reduce electricity costs and heating costs in order to balance the budget,” she said.

Bailey said they will be looking at each school and its projected enrolment and where there are significant empty classrooms they will be closing those areas.

The final budget for next year was balanced at Tuesdays meeting by finding savings in a number of areas. In operations and maintenance (including the projected savings with the utilities) $144,000 in savings was identified. Spring break was changed back from one week to two weeks, garnering $191,000 in savings,  $98,750 was saved in the transportation area and about $200,000 will be used from last year’s surplus.

Acting superintendent Rollie Koop said the general population of students is declining and will result in about 50 less students in the district next year.

And although the school board will be closing down areas of the schools, a trend that began last year at the elementary level is projected to continue.

“Last year we actually had one more student in the district than we had the year before (at the elementary level) which is the first time since I’ve been in the district that that’s occurred,” said Koop.

Koop said that trend is going to continue with approximately 2.08 full-time equivalent more in classroom time at the elementary level.

Other significant savings for next year’s budget were found in projected profits from the International Students Program, around $154,000, and the Collaborative Education Alternative Program (CEAP),  projected to garner an additional $255,000. To look at more details on the budget visit www.sd69.bc.ca.