The B.C. School Trustees Association is asking the provincial government to exempt public schools from recently announced B.C. Hydro rate hikes, or provide a special utility rate for school districts to help cover the shortfall.

BCSTA President Teresa Rezansoff made the request in a letter to Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, dated December 3, 2013.

Last month Bennett announced electricty rate hikes of 40 per cent over the next decade, with a nine per cent increase coming next spring.

Rezansoff argued that the rate hikes, in addition to other cost pressures facing B.C. boards, has put staffing levels and student services at risk.

'The impact on smaller school districts budgets, particularly those in the northern parts of the province, will be significant'- Teresa Rezansoff, BCSTA president

“The current electricity costs for over 1,600 buildings, housing more than half a million students, are $35.5 million a year,” wrote Rezansoff.

“The impact on smaller school districts budgets, particularly those in the northern parts of the province, will be significant.”

Collectively, the BCSTA estimates the rate increases will cost school districts more than $4,000,000 in 2014/15, with an accumulated cost of more than $29,000,000 over the next five years.

with files from Canadian Press