Schools spared closure

SWLSB passes austerity budget

By Robert Frank

During its June 29 council meeting, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) succeeded in passing a balanced budget for the coming school year, despite drastic cutbacks imposed by the provincial government.

The $600,000 in reductions came largely at the cost of jobs, some of them at the school board’s head office, SWLSB chair Jennifer Maccarone told The Suburban.

“The majority of the abolitions that the executive committee agreed to affected positions that were already vacant or entailed positions that will not be filled after an employee retires,” she said in an interview.

Maccarone was unable to specify the number the number of positions to be cut or the total number of person-years of employment reductions.

“It’s difficult to say how many positions,” she said. “Some are 30 per cent, some 20 per cent. I can say that only one person has to date found themselves without employment. There is always an impact.”

She credited her predecessors for having helped keep SWLSB out of deficit.

“There were some tough decisions made by the outgoing council,” she acknowledged.

SWLSB spared special needs students, whose programs were under review.

“We said no cuts to special needs, despite the cutbacks,” Maccarone said. “We’re actually investing more in special needs to maintain services there.”

The cutbacks have lowered the amount that SWLSB spends on overhead “to about 3.4 per cent now, with the additional cuts departments are making.”

Maccarone expressed relief that the Couillard government backtracked on measures that might have forced SWLSB to close some of its schools.

“It was a scary situation that put school boards in a position where they would have had to make decisions that don’t support student success,” she said. “When you cover a territory the size of SWLSB, how longs are the kids supposed to stay on the school bus, when some of them already have and hour-and-a-half commute each way?”

“Quebec must protect its English minority,” said Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board chair Jennifer Maccarone.

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