Kamloops-Thompson School District plans to fund a $1.4-million wage settlement for support workers from its reserve fund and by finding cost-saving measures within its annual budget.
“The district was asked to prepare a savings plan to demonstrate its ability to pay the wage increase negotiated as part of the provincial framework,” said Kelvin Stretch, secretary-treasurer for the district.
The framework, negotiated through the province’s co-operative gains mandate, allows for a wage increase of 3.5 per cent over two years. However, it was conditional upon school districts finding the funds within their existing budgets.
“We’re looking in the neighbourhood of $500,000 in year one and $900,000 in year two,” Stretch said.
In the first year, the district’s reserve fund will cover the increase. In the second, it will look at savings within its annual budget process. Budget trimming can only be achieved through consultations with stakeholders, including the unions.
Stretch said it’s too early to pinpoint the potential savings, but the district is not allowed to cut from core services.
“It’s a fair amount of money, but in a budget of $145 million, I think we can do it and not materially impact the system,” he said.
Some school districts in the province anticipated difficulty in finding the funds to support the wage increase, but School District 73 was not among them.
“One of our challenges, certainly, is that we went through a lengthy process three years ago when we had the reconfiguration process.”