The Vancouver School Board this evening released its preliminary operating budget proposals designed to address an $18.12-million deficit in the 2010-11 school year.
The proposals are far ranging, from adoption of a local school calendar, to the reduction of staff across the district. The proposed staff cuts include teachers, support staff, school and district administration, trades and labour staff. The district will also aim to increase its own revenue sources, such as income derived from international students and rental income.
By implementing a local school calendar that includes reducing the number of instructional days per year the Board can save approximately $1.4 million in staff costs. However, given the size of the shortfall and the fact nearly 92 per cent of the district's spending is on salaries and benefits, the majority of savings will be achieved through staff reductions.
The preliminary budget proposals will result in a reduction of 190.6 full-time equivalent positions.
Area of Review FTE $ (millions)
- Instructional staff - teachers (97.3) $(6.79)
- Instructional staff - support staff (30.5) $(1.47)
- Instructional staff - substitutes $(1.40)
- Instructional supplies $(0.75)
- School administration (15.5) $(1.33)
- Continuing, adult & summer education (18.3) $(1.73)
- District administration (10.3) $(1.60)
- Transportation $(0.47)
- Facilities (18.7) $(2.45)
- Other $(0.18)
- Total operating budget proposals (190.6) $(18.17)
This is not the first time the school district has been faced with making cuts in the past decade. In all but one year since 2002-03, the VSB was forced to make significant budget reductions. During the eight-year period ending in 2009-10, the district reduced its operating budget by a net total of $51 million.
In spite of this, staff and students continue to show resiliency and strength, all qualities required to support teaching and learning within Vancouver schools. However, there is no doubt that the impact of the reductions proposed for 2010-11 will shake the very core of the system.
Cuts and changes in areas of non-enrolling teachers, specialty teaching programs, support to schools, staff development, school and district administration, special programs, and facility operations will compound and compromise the VSB's ability to continue the service levels provided in the past.
Facing such a difficult predicament, the need to close schools may be on the horizon for the Board and our community. The District Management Team will prepare a preliminary list of schools later this spring that might be considered for closure. However, at this stage, school closures are not anticipated before the 2011-12 school year.
The preliminary budget proposals places a priority on the core Kindergarten to Grade 12 mandate and are intended to support the district's goal of striving for success for all students by minimizing negative impacts on the classroom.
Trustees will hold a series of public consultation meetings before making the final decision on budget reductions April 29. Dates and locations of the meetings can be found at the end of this story.
Summary of VSB's 2010-11 preliminary operating budget proposals by area:
Local school calendar
- At least $1.4 million in estimated savings in teacher-on-call costs and the consolidation of teaching positions through the implementation of a local school calendar that reduces the number of instructional days from 185 to 175 and cancels early dismissal.
Instructional staffing - teachers
- Reduce teaching staff by 113.8 FTE in schools, adult learning centres and district services, including:
- 43 non-enrolling teachers working as resource teachers (ESL and special education), learning assistance/skills development teachers, secondary school counsellors and teacher librarians;
- Cancellation of itinerant band and strings program;
- 11.4 FTE district consultants and mentors supporting schools in professional growth, learning and development.
Instructional staffing - support staff
- A 30.5 FTE reduction in instructional support staff, including eight special education assistants who are above formula, and four multicultural liaison workers.
- These reductions include the impact of consolidating special education and alternate programs.
- Save $1.3 million, in part, by reducing school administration time for vice-principals while increasing their teaching time.
- Reduction in administration allotment at 10 elementary schools where student populations are below 200 by designating them as annexes for staffing purposes.
- In schools with student headcounts between 350 and 449, the allotment of vice-principals will be reduced through attrition and replaced with head teachers.
Continuing, adult and summer education
- Spending reduced by $1.7 million, resulting in increased class sizes for adult education; a reduction in the number of summer school sites; and moving night school to a full direct cost-recovery model.
- Spending cut by $1.6 million, or 6.2 per cent, including the reduction of 10.3 positions in district support areas such as finance, human resources and administrative services for the secretary-treasurer's and superintendent's offices.
- Budget for transporting students with special needs will be reduced by nearly $0.5 million, lowering spending to roughly the amount received from the province for transportation.
- $2.5 million cut in facility costs and the reduction of 18.7 positions, which will be achieved, in part, by suspending interior painting for one year.
- The district will also increase revenue from rentals by raising rental and administration fees.
- Funding for CommunityLINK for 2010-11 is unknown. The VSB is currently projecting a shortfall of $0.6 million based on the same level of provincial funding as 2009-10 being provided in 2010-11.
- At this stage, proposals will be presented in a separate document dealing with projected the $0.6 million CommunityLINK funding shortfall.
- Additional budget proposals may have to be presented after the provincial funding for the VSB is known.