School board debates budget

THE SCHOOL district shouldn’t be hiring administrators at a time when it is cutting spending on students, one of its trustees said June 8.

Tanis Kilpatrick, who voted against accepting the school district’s preliminary budget, said the spending plan to hire two administrators to work in the board office will result in significant reductions to student educational services.

The preliminary budget estimates the total operating costs for the district to be $53,160,050 for the 2011/2012 fiscal year. This is down from last year’s expenses, which came in at $54,141,320 – and was supplemented by $1.5 million using prior year reserves.

“This budget also gives priority funding to administration at the expense of instructional services,” Kilpatrick said.

“I have a lot of concerns about the preliminary budget and the process with which  it was developed,” she said.

Kilpatrick, a Terrace trustee, was joined in opposing the budget by Thornhill trustee Gary Turner.

“The budget committee had too much power with too [few] trustees,” Turner said, explaining they have not had a discussion yet on issues such as changes to how band classes will be delivered next year.

Terrace District Teachers Union president Karen Andrews echoed Kilpatrick’s comments, noting the district has added two administrative positions – district principal, learner support and director of instructor, learner support.

“We’re disappointed that facing declining enrolment and budget cuts that the board would be hiring additional administrative positions and making cuts to teachers which will affect the students in our classrooms,” Andrews said.

Andrews added that the district also wants to hire someone to work in its finance department under the current secretary treasurer.

Kitimat trustee Raymond Raj expressed strong support of passing the preliminary budget.

“This is what we have right now and we have to work with it,” he said.

Terrace trustee Art Erasmus and Hazelton trustee Lynn Newbury both voiced their support of passing the budget, saying it is not yet final.

“The budget is based on estimates that we can’t confirm until September enrolment,” Erasmus said, explaining that the district receives its money from the province based on student numbers. And those can’t be known until the start of the school year.

The board will vote again on the preliminary budget June 22.

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