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School district budget passes initial reading

Some last-minute shuffling preceded School District 79’s contentious budget passing its first of three hoops on Wednesday.

Money has been shifted from areas like advertising and supplies, and put toward student achievement, counselling and library costs.

The budget follows what board chairwoman Candace Spilsbury has called a “particularly brutal” budget season, and passed first reading in a 5-4 vote. Second and third readings are expected at the board’s May 18 meeting.

Pre-vote amendments, meanwhile, saw cash moved around in a variety of areas.

For example, another year with a two-week spring break allows district bean counters to put $362,400 back into student achievement, and teacher-librarians were relieved to see a proposed cut to libraries scrapped.

An anticipated cut of $94,211 to transportation — which would have seen French immersion and school-of-choice students pay fees for busing — has also been scrapped.

However,  that requires cuts in other areas of the budget, such as roughly $110,000 being taken from the numeracy and literacy specialists’ budget.

Trustees have been voicing concerns about under-funding from the province for years. They say rising inflation and other increased costs to districts are not being matched from the Ministry of Education, which funds per-student in a time of declining enrolment.

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