Vancouver school board has last chance to adopt budget or members get fired

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      The Vancouver school board is holding a crucial meeting this week.

      It’s the final opportunity for trustees to adopt a balanced budget or get fired by the province.

      Based on the latest report by staff, the district is expected to spend almost $502 million for school year 2016-2017.

      That’s $21.8 million more than the money it expects to get. The district anticipates revenues of about $480 million, of which 93 percent will come from the province.

      Under the School Act, school boards have to deliver a balanced budget by June 30.

      On April 28, the board voted 5-4 to reject a proposed budget. That one contained cuts to administration costs, maintenance, and educational services to deal with a shortfall at that time of $24 million.

      The deficit has since been reduced to $21.8 million, mainly due to additional funding from the province.

      According to Vancouver school board chair Mike Lombardi, it’s all up to the province how the situation will be resolved.

      Lombardi related that he was on the phone with B.C. Liberal Education Minister Mike Bernier last weekend.

      “We’ve asked the minister to come up with a proposal that addresses our shortfall,” Lombardi told the Straight in a phone interview Monday (June 27). “So my hope would be that we get a proposal, which would address the whole $21.8 million, but that’s up to the minister.”

      The board meets on Wednesday (June 29).

      “Let’s face it,” Lombardi said. “If there’s nothing to propose, we will not be adopting a budget and the June 30th date will come by.”

      Lombardi explained that based on the rules, only someone from among the five trustees who voted against the budget last April 28 is able to put forward a motion for reconsideration at the meeting this week.

      These five trustees are Lombardi and his three colleagues from Vision Vancouver, and the city’s lone Green school trustee, Janet Fraser.

      “I haven’t heard of anybody who’s prepared to reconsider the motion, if we don’t have additional funding proposed to us,” Lombardi said.

      The school board chair declined to comment about what will happen if the province offers less than $21.8 million to fully cover the shortfall.

      Lombardi said: “The minister and I are both working toward a solution, so I think we owe it to the minister to see what he has to present to us.”