Strings programs among cuts as Greater Victoria School Board slashes $6M from budget

Strings programs among cuts as Greater Victoria School Board slashes $6M from budget
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The Greater Victoria school trustees voted Thursday to pass its $318-million budget.

Because school boards are legally required to balance their books, SD61 had to make roughly $6 million in budget cuts.

Ilda Turcotte, president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, said the cuts are too much.

“In terms of what it means for students, and for teachers, we have some counselling time that is going to be reduced. So four elementary schools are going to have their counselling time reduced by point one,” she said Friday.

Turcotte says it could mean laying off several part-time learning support teachers.

Cuts also include learning support, dropping the number of elementary schools offering the strings program from 24 to 14, and the basic school supplies budgets will be shaved down.

“It’s very alarming. It’s alarming to know that students won’t have access to supports, whether it’s academic supports, social-emotional supports,” Turcotte said.

“We understand the difficult decisions the board had to make. They just don’t receive enough money from the province,” she said.

Parents waiting to pick up their children at Sir James Douglas Elementary on Friday agree.

“I think it’s outrageous. Absolutely outrageous, right? Our children are our future and just focusing on issues of children that have special needs, and they are not being met. It just creates chaos in the system,” said one parent.

During its meeting, the board also passed a hiring freeze for non-school-based staff, providing yet another lesson about a tough economy.

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