As school boards across the province battle with another year of budget crunches, they will have a new and very hefty internet bill to deal with next year.
The Ministry of Education, working with Telus, is putting in a schools-specific high speed internet network, which should be online by next year.
The provincial government pegs the start up costs at $137 million, and BC School Trustees Association President Teresa Rezansoff says school districts must now pay their share.
“The cost is $24 million to complete everything with the next gen network.”
Rezansoff says they have paid in the past.
“But it has been paid in different ways but this year it is just coming as a direct cost outside of our operating.”
The Vancouver School District, which is grappling with a $24-million budget deficit, is on the hook for $2.25 million for 2016/17, up from $1.29 million in 2015/16.
For its part the Ministry of Education says school districts must find a way to cover the bill for the high speed network.
While it admits holdback funds have covered off the bill in the past, increasing enrollment has taken that option off the table.
The ministry adds school districts are only on the hook for costs above $23-million the province pays for.