The Park West School Division has chosen not to cut its senior years vocational programming for the coming school year after students, parents and school staff came out in strong opposition to the proposed changes.
In a news release sent out on Tuesday afternoon, the division said it would continue the programs for 2018-19 as a result of "significant stakeholder feedback."
"This will provide adequate time for the board and administration to consider other transportation options for vocational students, explore possible partnerships and grants with other organizations, better evaluate the demand for these programs across the division, and finalize a plan to improve the efficiency of senior years’ course delivery using our fibre network."
Public presentations have been scheduled for March 22 and Park West has until the end of the month to approve its final budget.
The division first proposed the idea of eliminating its four vocational programs — construction, cosmetology, health-care aide and nature studies — during a public budget presentation on Feb. 26.
The division pointed to a number of factors, including lower levels of funding from the province, a two per cent limit on the special requirement, increased labour costs, a declining surplus and growing maintenance costs as all having played into the proposed cuts.
If approved, the move would have cut 2.55 full-time equivalent teaching positions, saving $222,870. The division would have also cut back on busing and supplies, saving an additional $133,000.
Altogether, Park West was looking at a total reduction of $355,870 in senior years vocational programming.
While the programs will survive for another year, Park West plans to cut in other areas to make up the difference.
The largest reductions would be to the surplus reserve and the removal of a school bus purchase, accounting for $115,915 and $115,000, respectively.
Park West also plans to remove middle years vocational programs, for a savings of $48,480.
In an email, Supt. Stephen David said these are entry-level programs that give students vocational experience prior to high school.
"Several public presentations and considerable stakeholder feedback suggested this area could be removed to allow for the return of the high school programs," he said.
The remaining cuts include removing a half full-time equivalent information and communications technology resource position, a lower salary for the cosmetology instructor, reduced spending on photocopiers and appreciation events, the removal of busing Shoal Lake band students to Strathclair, and reduced spending on extracurricular trips, trustee professional development and meeting costs, and band program supplies.
The division will also spend $40,000 more on the Fibre Co-op member levy — part of a joint network between Park West, Hamiota Municipality, the Municipality of Yellowhead and Prairie View Municipality — due to start-up costs, and $23,000 to account for the provincial carbon tax.
On Monday, the board of trustees approved a $9,927,927 special levy for 2018 and a total budget of $29,040,808.
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