- BC Games
BACK TO SCHOOL: CUPE head hasn't forgotten job cuts
Classes are in session across School District 43 after a two-month break and The Tri-City News asked key individuals how they think schools will manage under increased financial constraints and what they hope to accomplish in the coming months.
When Dave Ginter, president of CUPE Local 561, sits down at the microphone at SD43 meetings, many people cringe.
With his booming voice and direct form of presentation, Ginter has a way of cutting through the edu-speak that occasionally emanates from district officials.
This school year, Ginter plans to be at it again, holding the district's feet to the fire for the $8.2-million deficit it incurred last year that resulted in $12.1 million cuts this year.
Although many of the overages were the result of unavoidable higher costs in utilities and benefits, some were undoubtedly the product of mistakes in enrolment projections, budget miscalculations and expenditures not accounted for in the budget.
Superintendent Tom Grant has promised not to repeat these mistakes and the board has hired a forensic accountant to sort out the issues; some changes have already been made to budget procedures.
But Ginter said he still wants the district to be more accountable because many of his union members lots their jobs. "I don't want people to forget what happened with the budget."
The longtime CUPE member is also heading into bargaining locally on numerous issues and waiting to hear what the government plans to offer school support workers in wages.
"Any increases into wages the government has said to school boards you'll have to pay for it," Ginter said, predicting an offer of 2% in a two-year contact, costing the district between $1.5 million and $2 million.
What is certain is that Ginter will be a regular at school board meetings in the weeks to come.