The Sooke School District will receive $450,401 to reduce the sting of more than $1.7 million in budget cuts.
Last week the province agreed to let B.C. school districts keep $25 million they were required to cut from administration.
In the Sooke district, the promise of more funds comes on the heels of a process that resulted in significant cuts to reach a balanced budget.
Education Minister Mike Bernier announced May 31 that school districts can keep the money they’ve saved to spend as they see fit.
“At this point, we’re glad for the money. We wish the amount was higher,” said Bob Phillips, Sooke board of education chair.
“We’re really, really glad that we can use the money the way we want to use it. So the staff will look at the services we had to take out of our budget.”
The Sooke district was looking at cutting several educational assistants, librarian, school coordinators and counsellor positions as well as school programs to make up the budget deficit.
Provincially, the group Families Against Cuts to Education says 31 districts were reporting a combined shortfall of more than $85 million in their budgets for next year.
Adding to the shortfalls across the province are mandatory technology upgrades at $24 million this year, salary increase for non-union staff, and other cost increases including rising B.C. Hydro rates and MSP premiums.
B.C. NDP leader and Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan said despite the budget windfall, the Liberal government still continues to underfund public education.
“This is the least that [Premier] Christy Clark could do. The least. This is not new funding and I think that parents and students will see through this cynical election ploy,” Horgan said in a statement.
“There are no cheques going to local school boards. All that the B.C. Liberals are saying is that they won’t be clawing back the $25 million that they were originally demanding from schools across B.C.”