The Calgary Board of Education plans to drain its rainy day fund to cover a $27.7 million budget shortfall.

Public school trustees voted on Tuesday night to use the $20-million reserve for the 2014-2015 school year.

“Do you want to have a little money in the bank or do you want to have people in schools,” said Naomi Johnson, chief superintendent of schools.

Facing another shortfall next year, board members said they must use the emergency fund in order to avoid cuts in the classroom.

The board also voted to extend its own 3.5 per cent pay cut enacted last year, holding the trustee honorarium at $45,000 per year.

"We're putting the money where our mouth is and looking at our own paycheques when we make decisions in the best interest of the school system,” said board chair Sheila Taylor.

The board is expected to finalize its $1.2-billion budget in May.