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Funds may avert vocational, administrative cuts

NDP criticizes government of mixing education with politics
June 1, 2016 9:31 A.M.
Hairdressing students at NorKam secondary. (Kamloops-Thompson School District)

Vocational courses could be spared and administrative cuts restored with $674,000 in funding returned to School District 73 by the province.

The problem is the redirected funds from administrative savings won’t necessarily be around in a year’s time, says District Superintendent Karl deBruijn.

School trustees will probably decide how to take advantage of the funds at their regular board meeting next week in Clearwater.

“Any time you get additional funding it’s going to help a tight budget,” he said. “In essence, it’s money we didn’t think we had before.”

Like many others in B.C., the district has had to undergo its budget cycle of anticipated cuts in order to adapt to the impact of declining enrolment and per-student funding.

A year after the district opened NorKam Trades Centre, and at a time when more students are expressing interest in vocational programming, it is considering cancelling hairdressing and chef courses at the school.

“We might be able to save those programs for another year,” deBruijn said.

After provincial government announced the funds Tuesday, the NDP Opposition criticized the timing less than a year before the next election.

NDP Leader John Horgan called it a classic example of taking with one hand and then giving it back just before the election.

“It’s an odd way to run a public education system,” Horgan said.

Funding to School District 73 is part of a $25-million provincewide initiative that had all districts receiving funds from administrative savings.

“This funding relief will greatly benefit students by providing supports for classrooms and front-line instruction,” said Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake. “The Kamloops-Thompson School District now has more flexibility to invest in areas that it sees as priorities.”

The amount of money being left with districts is equal to the Year 2 of administrative savings districts were asked to find.

School districts, including SD 73, have been informed that they will not have to pay their share of $25 million worth of provincial charges this year, and instead can redirect that money into frontline services for students.

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