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Burnaby schools could cut 42 full-time jobs

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



"One of the reasons why we’re most sensitive this year … is because now the cuts are actually beginning to hurt people."

— Baljinder Narang, Burnaby School Board


To stave off a $3.1-million shortfall in the coming school year, Burnaby School Board is considering cutting 42 full-time positions.

That’s on top of nine positions the board is eliminating under its co-operative gains mandate.

According to a report, the potentially affected positions would include secondary school staff, elementary teachers that aren’t bound to specific classes, aboriginal education, administrative positions and custodians.

Secondary school class sizes could be expected to increase since one of the suggested cuts proposes having Burnaby’s student population split among fewer classes.

School board chairwoman Baljinder Narang said Monday trustees are taking feedback from stakeholders on Wednesday. A decision on the cuts would be expected on April 22.

She said the discussions would help determine which of the 42 positions would be eliminated, since cutting them all would save $1.27 million more than is required to balance the books.

“Every year … benefits, or whether it’s MSP, or BC Hydro, by default, costs are increasing,” Narang said.

“The funding that’s coming in for our operations budget is not increasing, so there’s a disconnect.”

The provincial operating grant, for example, is remaining relatively stable at $192.9 million next year — an increase of just $247,939 from the current one.

An adults English language services contract from the federal government that injected $1.6 million into the current year’s budget would also be gone in the 2014/2015 year.

The board itself expects to earn another $850,000 in new money from having 10 more international students next year, but Narang urged caution about how quickly the international education program expands since there are only so many classes and teachers available.

Burnaby Teachers’ Association vice-president Patrick Parkes said the cuts would mean less individual support for kids.

“A major complaint I have is our provincial government has been talking a lot about choice, but what we see here is based on underfunding,” he said.




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