Vancouver - (May 6, 2016) – Amid questions about operating stability of the Vancouver School District since the board's decision not to approve the 2016/17 preliminary operating budget proposals VSB Chair, Mike Lombardi, has issued a statement to staff, the District Parent Advisory Council and other partner groups.
The decision means there is not a board-approved budget in place for next year. Without an approved budget, the Chair acknowledges it is the responsibility of the Superintendent to carry out operations in a way that ensures the district can continue to meet its financial and contractual obligations.
"In this case, that means the Superintendent must proceed with implementation of the proposed preliminary budget, including all staffing, program and spending reductions it contains, until he is directed to do otherwise by the board," said Mr. Lombardi. "He is doing so with the board's understanding and full confidence."
In the meantime, the board is continuing to work with the Minister of Education to secure additional funding for the operating budget. "We remain hopeful that the proposed cuts can be reduced or eliminated. If additional funding becomes available in the coming weeks or months my expectation is that the budget proposals would be adjusted accordingly," said the Chair.
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- Under the School Act, all districts are required to submit a balanced budget by June 30
- VSB's total budget for 2016-17 is more than $590-million
- The preliminary budget shortfall as of March 31 was approximately $27-million
- In order to balance the budget, proposals put forth cuts to 167 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs including teachers, support workers and administrative positions
- Many of those positions have a direct impact on learning
- Some of the proposed cuts included early literacy mentors, an anti-homophobia mentor, a district athletic coordinator and a fine arts coordinator
- Release of holdback funds from the Ministry of Education and the proposed closure of a non-enrolled annex reduced the shortfall to $24-million
- That allowed the restoration of 37 FTE positions, including the athletic and fine arts coordinators, gifted staffing, special education support, early literacy mentors and secondary teachers
- The Board held a series of public meetings to receive feedback
- On April 28, 2016 trustees amended the budget proposals to reinstate the anti-homophobia mentor and directed staff to explore a user pay model for the band and strings program
- At that same meeting the Board voted against approval of the 2016-17 preliminary operating budget
- Board Chair Mike Lombardi, Vice-Chair Janet Fraser and the superintendent met with Education Minister Mike Bernier and his deputy Minister on May 3
- Discussions with the Ministry of Education continue