School district proposes balanced budget

School board incorporates special ed review recommendations into next year's budget.

The Chilliwack Board of Education presented a perfectly balanced budget for next year at Tuesday’s board meeting, which included a strengthening of its special education resources.

In line with recommendations set out in February’s special education review, the district will hire another psychologist in 2013-14, adding to the several already on the roster. One psychologist will work through the summer to chip away at the backlog of student assessments.

There will be a new early intervention coordinator to assist with early literacy programming, and a new specialized staff member to coach instructors on teaching in a diverse classroom.

Next year’s budget also includes $81,500 for professional development to education assistants, resource teachers, and learning assistance teachers. Most of this allocation exists in the current budget as well.

The board is funding more time for teachers-on-call to fill gaps in classrooms, and providing an additional $13,000 to the Education Centre and C.H.A.N.C.E Alternate, which the facilities will likely use for supplies.

The removal of seven full-time units of education assistants from the budget represents closing empty positions. No EAs are losing their jobs.

“We are not anticipating layoffs in any category at all,” said secretary-treasurer Maureen Carradice.

Approximately 60 staff are coming to a natural end to their temporary contracts, and some of those spaces will be filled by the new positions.

In response to a spate of break-ins at schools during the past year, the district hired a new, slightly more expensive security firm, and reported seeing positive results already.

The board’s approval of an early French immersion program on Tuesday will have no impact on next year’s budget, Carradice confirmed. The district has $5,564,645 in accumulated surplus, which includes the $600,000 reserve that will be used to fund EFI.

The board is pulling another $715,000 from the surplus to cover funding gaps for two ongoing programs, IT infrastructure upgrades within school buildings, and an initiative to keep aboriginal students in school.

The $111,297,306 budget for the 2013-14 year came to first reading on Tuesday. There will be two more readings before approval.

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