Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district faces $5.4-million shortfall

Up to 44 full-time positions, none among senior management, could be affected by cuts

Dozens of jobs are on the line as the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district grapples with a $5.4-million shortfall in its budget for 2014-15.

Senior staff presented 32 strategies to the school board this week to consider. They include the possible loss of up to 44 fulltime positions as the district prepares to finalize a balanced $115.8-million budget by April 30.

Secretary treasurer Phil Turin said the proposed budget-reduction strategies that management is asking the board to consider total $6.8 million, which is $1.4 million more than the required amount of reductions.

He said the board has the option of selecting $5.4 million of reductions from those proposed by management, and may also want to suggest other strategies.

The strategies target mostly the district's support staff, which has taken the brunt of cuts in recent years, as well as some teaching positions and cuts to programs.

There are no strategies at this time to cut any senior management positions in the district. Proposed job cuts in the strategies that were presented include the loss of support staff at the district administration centre, cuts to custodial staff and the contingency budget for educational assistants, as well as the loss of one carpenter and one bus-driver position.

Turin also proposes using the operating surplus of $1.5 million from 2012-13, and $1 million from a "clawback" on some supplies spending in the 2013-14 budget to help cover next year's shortfall.

"We've known for a long time what our financial situation will be for next year, so this is not a surprise for anyone," Turin said.

"For the past several years, the district has been cushioned from the full impact of enrolment decline by the Ministry of Education's funding protection grant, which has seen the district receive $12.4 million since 2011-12, but the grant is being phased out and is $1.7 million less than this year in the 2014-15 budget. I can't even imagine what our current financial state would look like without that grant in recent years."

The district will hold a public meeting on April 15 at 6 p.m. at Nanaimo District Secondary School to discuss the budget.

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