Coquitlam school district faces tough financial times

Board of education chair Melissa Hyndes says Coquitlam school district is facing tough financial times and is looking for a new secretary treasurer. - FILE PHOTO
Board of education chair Melissa Hyndes says Coquitlam school district is facing tough financial times and is looking for a new secretary treasurer.
— image credit: FILE PHOTO

School District 43 is facing budget woes at the same time it's looking for a new money manager and is girding its loins for a year of belt-tightening.

Rick Humphreys resigned from his post as secretary treasurer for the district effective January citing health and personal reasons.

Board chair Melissa Hyndes said the resignation was unexpected but wouldn't comment on the circumstances because it's a personnel issue. However, she said the district will immediately try to find a short-term replacement, such as a retired-secretary treasurer, while it seeks to fill the post on a permanent basis.

In the meantime, she said, superintendent Tom Grant will be acting-secretary treasurer.

Humphreys' departure comes as the district begins budget discussions for the 2013/2014 year and comes to grips with its current financial situation, which Hyndes said has deteriorated in recent months because of unanticipated costs.

It will have to find more than $1 million to cover anticipated wage increases for support workers in each of the next two years because of the government's Cooperative Gains Mandate plus another $1.5 million to cover an increase in teachers' pension costs.

Hyndes said the district is also facing a drop in enrollment and higher utility costs.

"Were looking at a bit of scaling back now for the current year as well as trying to forecast and predict what's happening for next year," Hyndes said.

With budgets already tight, SD43 doesn't think it can find the cash in efficiencies to fund wage increases for support workers and Hyndes said the district has sent a letter to the minister opposing the plan.

But this district isn't alone in alone in trying to figure out how to find efficiencies without reducing service. Hyndes said the BC School Trustees Association is also on record as opposing the requirement to find money for wage gains within existing budgets. "There's a unified 'no' from our provincial standpoint," Hyndes said.

More information about the district's financial circumstances is expected to be revealed at its Tuesday, Jan. 15 meeting.


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