The Howe Sound District School Board is scrambling to pinch pennies mid-year in response to unexpected funding changes from the province.
Howe Sound superintendent of schools Rick Erickson estimated the new grant formula would create a $150,000 to $200,000 shortfall.The change was announced through an email from the Ministry of Education to all B.C. school districts on Oct. 18. Schools will no longer be given per-pupil funding for students in Grades 10, 11 and 12. Instead, operating grants will drop for students enrolled part-time or taking courses from multiple institutions.
"It's certainly one point of view but it comes halfway through the school year," Erickson said.
He said the board would strive to avoid cutting jobs, trying instead to increase revenue. If fundraising efforts come up short, Erickson said schools would consider a variety of cuts across the entire school budget from paper to equipment.
Before the board makes any major changes, he said he would have to confirm that there are no other options to the severity of the cuts.Even if the adjustment were delayed, it would bring only brief relief to treasurers.
"This policy will make it much more difficult for districts to plan on staffing for secondary schools," said Susan Lambert, first vice-president of the BC Teachers' Federation.
The BCTF is calling on the ministry to keep its current funding formula at least until the end of the year, and is also demanding the ministry consult with school boards and the concerned public prior to making significant budget changes.