School trustees work to protect rural schools

School district 27 trustees took a collective stand in support of small rural schools during their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

School district 27 trustees took a collective stand in support of small rural schools during their regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The board voted to maintain the status quo on staffing at Big Lake Elementary School despite falling enrolment numbers that would normally trigger a reduction in staff to meet provincial budget guidelines. Maintaining the current staffing level at Big Lake elementary will cost the district $40,000, which is not included in the budget funding for the 2011/12 school year. Trustees were concerned that if all seven of the other rural schools in the district with low student enrolments expect the same consideration that Big Lake is receiving, the unfunded cost to the district could rise as high as $280,000. In a separate resolution the board agreed to write a letter to the Ministry of Education stating that the current provincial funding formula doesn’t work for small rural schools.

Trustee Pete Penner, who made the resolution, said the ministry has been neglecting small rural schools for too long.

“We need to keep pressing and showing our concern to the ministry and to our MLAs,” Penner said.

Big Lake elementary is projected to have 20 students in the fall and will run as a one-room school house with students from k-7 all in the same room. Limited teacher resources are supplemented with teacher assistant and library assistant time.

Likely elementary has 18 students and is also being run as a one room, k-7 school. The school trustees also gave first and second reading to their draft budget for the 2011/12 school year Tuesday evening.

Secretary treasurer Bonnie Roller gave a presentation on why the budget comes up $811,495 short and how the district plans to make up the shortfall using a projected surplus of $400,000 from the 2010/11 school year and $411,495 from the reserve fund account. This will leave the district with $288,505 in reserve funds. Third and final reading of the budget projected at $55,290,880 for the 2011/12 school year is scheduled for the June 28 board meeting.

The draft budget and report by Roller is part of the agenda of the May 31 meeting and can be found at https://bcsd27.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=9361.

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