Inclusive Learning staff, Farm Roots and other academy programs are among the cuts proposed by the Delta School District as it faces a $2.74 million operating shortfall for next year.
An anticipated drop of 293 full-time enrolled students for the 2022/23 school year, increased costs, as well as one-time special funding eliminated, combined with the province not increasing per-pupil funding, have all contributed to the district looking at some difficult decisions, said Secretary Treasurer Nicola Christ in a media briefing Tuesday.
The district received $162,000 from the province for the enrollment drop, but that amount won’t cover inflationary costs that are higher than usual as a result of challenges caused by the pandemic.
Christ said the district covered part of last year’s deficit using reserve funds, which meant a shortfall was carried over, but revenues are down from the International Student Program due to lower student numbers in what has been a lucrative revenue generator for the district in the past.
Saying the aim is to have the least impact while spreading the reductions across the district, Christ noted 26.7 full-time equivalents in multiple positions for Inclusive Learning are to be trimmed, but that number isn’t written in stone. The district has always spent more in that area than funding received and will continue to ensure every student with a special needs designation will receive continued assistance, she said.
“Every effort has been made, particularly in this area, to make sure the impacts are experienced as least as possible for our students,” she said. “Weeks of study and analysis have gone into making sure we can mitigate any impact as best as possible. One of the ways to do that is a reorganization of our system that will enable more of our services to flow directly to schools, as opposed to some of them being located at the district level.”
A few of the other reductions include removal of the energy manager budget and reduction in supplies and expenses.
There’s also going to be a reduction of the Indigenous budget, which will see a removal of one block of Indigenous Education Advocates’ time from each secondary school.
As far as the academies, Farm Roots has had insufficient student interest to warrant its continuance, says the district.
The fate of other academy programs is still up for review. While the film and acting academies are popular and will likely be back, some of the sports academies may not be so lucky.
People can provide feedback on the draft operating budget prior to the school board’s May 3 budget meeting. For more information and to see a copy of the budget, visit the SD37 website.