On April 29 the Vancouver Board of Education formally adopted a balanced Preliminary 2013-14 Operating Budget. The budget was the result of weeks of public consultation with stakeholder groups and the general public.
After hearing from the public on multiple occasions, the Board voted to continue funding six of the eight youth and family workers that were at risk of being cut at the beginning of the budget cycle. In addition, the Board restored 4.42 FTE enrolling teaching positions and retained the peer mentor positions in order to provide one-on-one support to education assistants and teachers. The Board also decided to add additional teacher counsellor time for International students.
"I want to thank our Trustees, VSB management and finance staff and all of our stakeholders as well as the public for working with us to minimize the impact of our funding shortfall on our students and staff," said VSB Chairperson Patti Bacchus. "Each year, we're forced to do more with less. I'm hopeful that K-12 education will be a priority for the next government, so that next year we won't be cutting but adding to our service offerings."
In addition to attempting to significantly minimize the impact of the cuts to students and front-line staff, the Board also decided to maintain the current 106 year old Continuing Education program. This coming year, the district will continue to offer a wide-range of specialty classes and an opportunity for community members to pursue lifelong learning. The VSB will work with instructors and others to develop strategies to market the program, including through the use of social media.
In addition to maintaining Continuing Education, the Board also passed a motion calling for an action plan to address the current challenges surrounding the district's inner city schools and allocated $150,000 to support inner city schools programming for 2013-2014. For a second year in a row the VSB also set aside $20,000 to a community support fund to help community agencies provide activities to vulnerable students during closure days.
The Board also passed a motion calling for the district to increase coordination with the City of Vancouver and Province of BC in order to grow the number of child care and day care spaces in elementary schools.
"The VSB budget shortfall was caused by the failure of the provincial government to provide the VSB with funding to cover the increased costs connected to the collective agreement, salary increments, employee benefits costs and inflation," said Mike Lombardi, Vice Chair of the VSB.
The amended and passed budget will be posted in the coming week on the VSB website.