British Columbia

Coquitlam schools facing $7.5 million surprise budget shortfall

Administrators at B.C.'s third largest school district are scrambling to make millions of dollars in cuts in order to deal with a surprise budget shortfall this year.
Some parents of schoolchildren in Coquitlam, B.C., think they'll have to foot the bill 2:09

Administrators at B.C.'s third largest school district are scrambling to make millions of dollars in cuts in order to deal with a surprise budget shortfall this year.

The Coquitlam School District says no staffing cuts are planned, but cutbacks will be made in its budgets for supplies, professional development programs, and other discretionary spending.

Glen Elementary is just one of many schools in Coquitlam facing possible cutbacks after a re-visit to the district's annual budget revealed a $7 million shortfall. (Google Maps)

The money school districts receive from the provincial government is tied to how many students are enrolled.

School board chair Melissa Hyndes said when the Coquitlam School District set its budget last spring, it estimated the student population would grow.

Instead, it declined by nearly 300 students. The district also overestimated the number of foreign students — those that pay to study in Coquitlam.

The Coquitlam School District is currently facing a potential deficit of more than $7.5 million, but school boards are not permitted to carry deficits.

Hyndes said that the district has identified about $5 million in cost-saving measures that can be implemented before the end of the school year.

The school district may ask for special permission to carry a deficit this year, an exemption that other school districts have received in the past.

With files from the CBC's Steve Lus