The Kamloops-Thompson school district's bean counters are hoping to see some of $1 million in savings accrued from the three-day teacher walkout this month.
B.C. has an estimated $50 million in savings from the walkout March 5-7 during which time the province was not paying teachers' salaries. Education Minister George Abbott said during Thursday's Bill 22 debate that $30 million would go to a previously announced education improvement fund.
Meanwhile, the district has run up a hefty tab in administrative staff time and mileage since September's limited job action.
"There's a number of things that we've incurred as a result of job action, and we feel that we shouldn't be absorbing those in our budgets, which are fairly tight," said district Supt. Terry Sullivan.
Sullivan said the district will submit a bill to government in hope the extra costs will be covered off.
"That's certainly not for sure, but that's what we intend to do."
Kamloops-Thompson Teachers Association president Jason Karpuk said the strike savings show addressing teacher issues could lead to less spending.
"I think it shows there's definitely some problems within the system, with respect especially to the report cards and how much time it takes to generate the report cards," said Karpuk.
"It should be a clear indication that there's additional demands and additional stress, both physically and mentally on teachers during those times. Perhaps if that's done proactively, then we can realize those savings year after year."
The province's funding allotment was distributed last week, so Kamloops-Thompson is now in a position to deliberate over its priorities after three months of preliminary preparation.
A draft budget goes to the board Monday, said Sullivan.
"We're in pretty good shape financially," he said. "So I don't expect any major cuts or staff reductions or any of that type of thing."
The board will meet in private with various stakeholders into April, including unions and parents. And in May, board members will vote on a final version.
Meanwhile, parents in British Columbia will have to wait a few more days before they learn about the next phase of teachers' job action.
B.C. Teachers' Federation president Susan Lambert says about 700 members are currently meeting in Vancouver to discuss how to react to the government legislation that has forced them back to work.
She says she can't discuss any of the resolutions on the table but a decision will likely be made by the end of their meeting on Tuesday.
Lambert says teachers are outraged by the legislation known as Bill 22, which bans further walkouts, imposes a six-month cooling off period and sends the contract dispute to a government-appointed mediator.
Abbott is currently in China where he has signed a memorandum of understanding to set up two B.C.-certified schools in Shanghai.
The minister said a growing number of Chinese students want to study in B.C. or attend a certified school there.
THE DAILY NEWS/THE CANADIAN PRESS