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Education Minister Jody Carr has ordered school districts to cut one per cent of their annual budget within the next four months. ((CBC))

New Brunswick's schools are scrambling to figure out how to deal with millions of dollars in cuts with just four months remaining in the fiscal year.

During the election campaign, Premier David Alward promised the Progressive Conservatives would boost funding for education.

However, the provincial government is now asking departments to trim budgets by one per cent as a way to deal with the $820-million deficit.

A memo to school districts from the Department of Education said there are to be no cuts to teaching staff.

John MacDonald, the director of finance and administration with School District 6, said he is trying to figure out where to find $768,000.

"That means we'll have to look at things like computer supplies, computer hardware, any vacancies we have in the district now we won't fill those vacancies, things like office supplies, things like PD, professional development for our staff," MacDonald said.

Next door in Saint John, the school district must eliminate $945,000 from its budget.

One email from the Saint John superintendent to principals called for everyone to pull together so the cuts don't reach the classroom.

'It won't be doomsday'

Roger Brown, the principal of Rothesay High School, said the school will do its best to meet the government's required budget cut without hurting the quality of classroom education.

"Learning goes on, the kids are creative so it won't be doomsday," Brown said.

"The reality is, the province is short money."

Education Minister Jody Carr said his department must carry its share of provincial cuts being ordered by Finance Minister Blaine Higgs.

Carr, who has already cut funding for education staff to travel outside of the province and scrapped an education conference that was planned for earlier in the fall, said the districts will have to find room in their budgets to help contain the province's deficit.

"We are asking the districts to evaluate programs and evaluate expenditures that do not affect classroom learning," Carr said.

Once the school districts figure out how to cut the one per cent from their 2010-11 budgets, they will need to prepare for a two-per-cent budget cut next year.

The finance department has already warned government departments to prepare for an even larger funding shortfall in 2011-12.

The province's finance minister said New Brunswick is facing a $1-billion deficit next year unless immediate cost-cutting measures are implemented.