Mission school budget passes third reading

Board trustees passed the budget with a 3-2 vote Tuesday night

Mission’s school district budget was approved Tuesday night, with the 3-2 voting split on third reading identical to last week’s meeting.

Trustees Randy Cairns and Carol Hamilton were the dissenting voices, while chair Edie Heinrichs, vice-chair Jim Taylor and Shelly Carter raised their hands in favour.

Cairns said no information came forward in the past seven days that would cause him to rethink his position, and that he still believes student support and achievement will be negatively affected by this budget.

Carter said it was not easy to come to a decision on this budget, but that a district-wide overview was used when looking at where to make cuts, not just at partner groups such as teachers and support staff.

While Hamilton said that the board is doing the right thing being financially responsible in addressing the deficit Mission Public Schools faces, she stated the board should have first developed the transition plan for how district work will be carried out with the reductions in exempt staff.

Heinrichs said for years union staff have been asked “to do more with less,” and that jobs were being lost due to declining enrolment. However, similar cuts to exempt administration staff did not follow suit, and in some years, staffing levels increased.

Taylor said the cuts the board has made “would have been less daunting if previous boards” had implemented cost control measures in past years.

The $61-million budget was given two readings June 19, and calls for a number of reductions including nearly $700,000 in exempt staff wages, $45,000 from the communications budget, $575,000 from teaching staff — due to enrolment decline — and a drop of $177,000 for education assistants, among others, to arrive at $1.9 million in cuts.

Also at issue was the drop from two elementary school counsellors to 0.6 full-time equivalent (FTE).

 

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