Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun, May 1, 2014– Vancouver School Board trustees have saved their band and strings programs, decided not to close for three extra days in November, and will keep the district’s athletic director, but will be using up nearly all of their capital reserve fund to do so.
The reserve fund is made up of income the district makes from leasing out property and is normally kept as a contingency at about one per cent of the nearly $500-million total budget. A budget passed by the board on Wednesday night reduces that $5-million fund to just $500,000.
Budget reductions in other areas will result in more than 26 full-time positions being eliminated, on top of the 24 positions already slated to be cut due to declining enrolment or previous decisions, such as a plan to close an adult education centre.
“We didn’t save the day. We deferred the inevitable,” said school board chairwoman Patti Bacchus on Thursday. “We were very clear last night that we’re taking a big risk and we’re putting whoever is elected next year in a tough spot. This will make next year’s budget even harder.”
The school board is forecasting a $26.6-million shortfall for the 2015-16 school year and a $3.76-million shortfall for the 2016-17 year, when enrolment is projected to increase. School board elections will be held this fall.
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