New Brunswick

Anglophone West schools face possible 30% budget cut

Schools in the Anglophone West district may lose 30 per cent of their budgets this year.

Impact of 'drastic' cut would be wide-ranging, says teachers' association

Schools in the Anglophone West district may lose 30 per cent of their budgets this year.

Heather Smith, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, calls the potential cut drastic.

It could affect everything from programs, to class supplies and gym equipment at schools in the Fredericton, Oromocto, Woodstock and Edmundston regions.

Last week, schools were told 70 per cent of their budgets would be released right away, while the remaining 30 per cent would follow later.

But, that’s now uncertain, said Smith.

"What I did find out today is that perhaps that's not the case. The 70 per cent is coming now with no promise that the 30 per cent will come later," she said.

Schools could see more funding if the district can find other ways to save money, said Smith.

But "schools can't operate on a perhaps," she said.

"They need to operate on what they know, which is the 70 per cent. And actually until this week, schools didn't even know that.

"Until this week, schools were under the impression they would have at least the same budget they had last year."

Teachers worried

Smith says she's already hearing from some teachers who are feeling the belt-tightening.

"We're six weeks into the school year and we don't have a budget. So, our school has no budget, we can't purchase anything. Our principals are telling us there's no money, they can't authorize any spending."

Smith says her fear is that programs are going to be cut and that teachers will end up paying out of their own pockets to fund what they believe are essential programs and supplies for their students.

The Department of Education announced in January that it was redrawing the province's school district boundaries, decreasing the number to seven from 14.

At the time, Education Minister Jody Carr said the move would save the department $5 million annually.

The reorganization included 65 positions being eliminated.