Schools feel budget pain

Instead of $4.4 million, the Langley school district will have to cut $5 million from its budget in the next school year.

The bad news was delivered Tuesday night (April 26) by secretary-treasurer David Green, who said a closer look at district finances has uncovered the need for another $800,000 to begin paying down the multi-million dollar deficit the district ran up in the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years while also dealing with reduced provincial government funding and higher costs.

He said most of the increase was due to a $500,000 to $600,000 error in calculating the budget requirements of the Langley Education Centre that offers high school programs to dropouts.

All but $184,000 of the extra amount has been found, Green told trustees, noting the remaining savings must be identified before the final budget for the next school year is approved.

Trustees voted unanimously to approve a preliminary budget plan that will cut $2.8 of the $5 million by making multiple share-the-pain cuts to all schools and by trimming funding for the remedial Reading Recovery program.

The rest of the $5 million will come from cutting administration costs and increasing revenue from renting out school facilities.

As well, schools will be expected to contribute left-over money from previous school years toward paying down the deficit and there will be $97,000 less for school supplies.

Trustee Rob McFarlane said he was “extremely concerned” about the proposed reduction in funding for remedial reading, warning that will mean higher costs down the road.

Trustee Rod Ross said it was either make the cuts or close schools, a remark that led Trustee Stacey Cody to reveal that school closures were discussed and discarded by trustees who have “no appetite” for closures — for now.

Trustee Cecelia Reekie was absent for family reasons.

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