It’s a last ditch chance to overcome the Vancouver School Board’s operating budget impasse.
The board is currently facing a $21.8-million dollar hole in its operating budget, and a June 30th deadline to balance the books or potentially be sacked.
VSB Chair Mike Lombardi has called a special budget meeting this Wednesday, and says a new vote is possible if the province pitches a new offer.
“I told the minister that we have a special meeting set up and it’s been advertised today, so he’s aware of that, and I said I will put on any proposal that he brings to us for the consideration of the board.”
Lombardi says a new proposal from Education Minister Mike Bernier would open the door for a trustee to re-introduce the budget question, allowing for a potential new vote.
The board and the ministry of education have been deadlocked since trustees voted down a budget with $24-million in cuts in April.
In the absence of an official budget, the VSB’s Superintendent of Schools has gone ahead and implemented an interim budget containing many of the cuts the board rejected.
Lombardi and Bernier have since met to try and work out the impasse, but as of yet neither side has appeared willing to blink.
With the clock ticking, Lombardi says he’s optimistic the province will come back to the table.
“We’re hopeful that our discussions will lead to some kind of proposal which will be available to us hopefully on Wednesday and that that will add some more money to the budget.”
The Schools Act requires B.C. school districts to pass a balanced budget by the end of June. If they fail to do so, the Education Minister can dismiss the board, or alternately send in a special advisor to work with them.
Asked about the potential of a last minute proposal, the Ministry of Education responded with an emailed statement:
“We are hopeful the VSB will table a balanced budget as required.”
In an unrelated process, the VSB is also facing the closure of a dozen schools as it moves ahead with a Long Range Facilities plan.