The New Westminster school board cut hundreds of thousands of dollars to help offset a projected deficit of more than $2.1 million for this school year, but is still about $342,000 short of its goal to balance the budget.
There is a chance the board will receive more funding for the calendar year from the provincial government and may also receive additional income from the school district's business company, which runs a school in China. The district estimates these extra funding sources - if they come through - add up to $384,000.
"There are three other possibilities, but none of which we can confirm," board of education chair Michael Ewen said at Tuesday's meeting, where the district's laundry list of potential cuts were voted on, line by line.
Ewen led the board through the list that included reducing spending, pulling funds from capital reserves, deferring equipment purchases, reducing maintenance and operations spending, charging rent for its facilities and major staffing adjustments.
The board also opted to defer putting aside savings for a future skateboard park and Massey Theatre funding to the tune of $250,000. The district has an agreement with the City of New Westminster that it would provide funding to the Massey Theatre Society staff while the theatre is closed and being rebuilt, but that won't happen until a new high school is built, trustee James Janzen told The Record.
The board voted unanimously against cutting a professional development program, which would save $15,000. But the board disagreed on whether to consider cutting May Day spending. Slashing funding for the annual spring festival would have saved the district $16,000.
"I was surprised, initially, that that was on there to begin with," trustee Lisa Graham said about the proposal to cut May Day funding. Graham is a strong proponent of the long-held spring tradition.
Trustee David Phelan said cutting May Day funding would be a short-term solution that could have a "long-term consequence."
Trustees Jonina Campbell and Janzen opposed a vote to take May Day off the table for consideration, though a motion to do just that passed with trustees MaryAnn Mortensen, Casey Cook, Phelan, Ewen and Graham voting in favour of taking it off the chopping block.
The board also agreed to not cut 5,000 for field trip funding, but opted to table an option to cut $15,000 from the budget to pay for outside consultants for human resources.
"Senior administration is already pressed," Campbell said.
Mortensen agreed, saying, "We need to consider the implications of this."
Janzen noted that the board might need guidance on future contraction negotiations.
"We are embarking on a rather expedited process of teacher bargaining this year ... (this will) put an awful lot of pressure on staff," he said.
At the urging of Phelan, the board tabled a $10,000 cut for the cost of transporting student athletes.
"I think this would have a negative impact on student activity and athletics," he said.
The district's cuts didn't include the price tag of an industrial property in Queensborough that it is considering selling. Staff projected the sale would bring $450,000 into the district's coffers, though some have suggested the district can't use the funds from the sale in its operating budget. Ewen previously told The Record the district could move funds around to free up cash to help pay off the shortfall. The district moved discussions on the Queensborough property sale into "closed."
Cook said public discussion on the sale could affect the district's ability to get "top dollar" for the property. The motion to move the Queensborough sale to a closed meeting of the board passed unanimously.