Alberni trustees talk school closure

School District 70 trustees are setting the stage for closing one elementary school next year to compensate for crippling cost increases.

School District 70 may be forced to close another school in the Alberni Valley next year.

District Superintendent Cam Pinkerton said Tuesday that increased costs without correlating revenue will trigger the decision.

“It’s crunch time for us in the next year or two,” trustee chair Larry Ransom said. “I don’t want to sugarcoat it — it’s not going to be an easy process.”

In his presentation, Pinkerton said that the district is facing increased cost pressures on two fronts: transportation funding and teachers’ pensions.

On the transportation front, the government act that once compelled school districts to provide bus services has been removed along with its previous funding formula. The result is that the district’s transportation funding will be reduced by $720,000 over the next three years, Pinkerton said.

As well, teachers’ pension plan premiums are increasing by $250,000 in 2013. The increase was warranted after a recent valuation showed that the plan was only 96 per cent funded.

And the district contingency fund which was built with proceeds from past school closures is now depleted.

The result is a $1.22 million loss in revenue.

The district is considering several options including reviewing staff and service levels. Other options being looked include altering the school calendar year, reducing transportation costs and increasing international education revenue, which will take time, Pinkerton added. These measures will save the district $1.26 million.

Chief among the other options are not renewing the $110,000/year VAST lease, and closing an elementary school, which is expected to save the district $300,000 per year. “I think we can do it and we have a process,” Pinkerton said.

The Valley has six elementary schools: Alberni, Eighth Avenue, Gill, John Howitt, Maquinna and Wood.

Alberni District Teachers’ Union President Ken Zydyk clarified that the teachers pension issue was separate from the other cost pressures. Further, that Pinkerton’s report was based on transportation cuts and the expire of the VAST lease.

Pinkerton didn’t specify a school, but said that if the option of closing a school is chosen then it should be done before the first board meeting in May, Pinkerton said. “Doing it quickly allows parents to plan for it,” he added.

The district won’t be left suddenly scrambling to make up the shortfall. A special funding protection measure is set to kick in when the district’s enrollment drops by more than two per cent. The district will retain 98 per cent of its funding through the arrangement but only for three years.

Pinkerton has already discussed the issue with CUPE and ADTU representatives and sent information to other groups.

His next step is to create a district steering committee made up of admin/teachers/CUPE/aboriginal and trustee representatives. Community consultations are slated to start in December.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Tseshaht First Nation athlete honoured with provincial sports award

Rain Thomas competes in three different sports

Alberni Valley firefighters pass the boot for Muscular Dystrophy

Annual fundraiser started in 1967 with Port Alberni Fire Department

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

Happy birthday: Queen Elizabeth II turns 93 on Easter Sunday

Sunday is the first of two birthday celebrations each year for the queen

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read