SD71 is facing difficult choices. And mistakes are expensive.
The most viable option: put a full stop to spending until all budget options are evaluated, adiposity and a new Treasurer and Administrator are fully integrated. We need to stabilize our community and avoid rushing into poor decisions out of a sense of panic. In light of this, we present a list of ways to reduce the shortfall not yet discussed.
It will be expensive to close Ecole Puntledge and move to a converted Lake Trail facility. And the community lose many of its best resources in the process.
Similar budget savings can be achieved without rushing into steps that may be difficult and expensive to undo. We’re asking for SD71 to keep Puntledge at Puntledge and take the 2016-2017 school year to consider possible alternative uses of Lake Trail (alternative programming, alternative calendars). Taking time to consider other viable options is the most prudent way forward. We can save money now and explore opportunities to keep our best resources working.
The city is working to revitalize Courtenay’s downtown core, and our schools are an essential part of that. We’re also reaching the end of declining SD71 enrolment, and both Ecole Puntledge and Lake Trail will be needed.
However, it is not solely on SD71 to maintain these resources. Schools belong to the community. And with ownership comes responsibilities. We, the community must support and contribute to our schools in this era of underfunded public education. We ask for time to help and contribute. Together we can find ways to manage our resources and build new financially beneficial partnerships. Together we can make all our schools our best schools.
With care, we can find ways to manage our resources and build new revenue partnerships. To be fair, all of the options on the following list must be considered. Parents, residents, elected officials all have a stake in these decisions being made in the public trust. We must look to administrative and discretionary expenses to balance the 2016/17 budget.