Chilliwack school district moves forward with cost-cutting budget

Board approves first reading of 2015-2016 school district budget, with $2.7 million in savings

The upcoming school year’s budget was given its first reading Tuesday night, with a brief overview from secretary treasurer Gerry Slykhuis.

In total, the school district will be managing $131,716,101 for the 2015-2016 school year.

It’s hard to compare the upcoming budget to previous years, Slykhuis noted. This year’s actual budget includes savings that accumulated from three weeks of strikes, while the upcoming year will include a full year of the new collective agreement for teachers.

“That makes it a really weird comparison year,” Slykhuis said.

It’s also been a “very tough budget” to create, he added. While the budget is balanced, it includes $2.7 million in cost cutting required due to cost increases and a tightening of the belt at a provincial level.

But there is good news in the budget, with a $151,000 boost in Learning Improvement Funds.

The purpose of the LIF is to support complex classes that present challenging learning conditions, Slykhuis explained. The funds are used 80/20 on teachers/EAs.

The budget is available to the public online on the school district’s website. It breaks down the total cost of all salaries and benefits ($103,856,173), operating expenses ($116,389,326), capital assets, revenues and more.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Trustee Heather Maahs asked for a better breakdown of where money is being saved in next year’s budget, and Slykhuis said he will bring that back to the board for the next reading. The next meeting is scheduled for June 9.