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Byemoor braces for school changes — principal

Change was in the air as Byemoor-area residents met with the Clearview School Division last Tuesday night to discuss

Change was in the air as Byemoor-area residents met with the Clearview School Division last Tuesday night to discuss the viability of the small-town school.

Clearview’s first in a series of “community consultation meetings” came just five days after a provincial budget that didn’t do any favours on the education front.

“There will need to be changes,” said Byemoor principal Corey van Zandbergen, who didn’t say how those cuts would be manifested.

Van Zandbergen said he needed more time to analyze the implications of the provincial budget, and how those cuts would impact each school.

All of the Clearview trustees, as well as four members of the administration, attended the Byemoor meeting.

Clearview superintendent John Bailey said the board has “much less money” to spend in the 2013-14 school year.

To avoid another deficit, about $1 million will need to be trimmed from the budget, he said.

Plus, the division is poised to receive almost $700,000 less from the province.

In a slide presentation, Clearview said staffing reductions are inevitable and must be borne equitably by all schools and other operations. Seventy-five per cent of the division budget goes to staff, while 90 per cent of school budgets go to staff.

Byemoor School has about $50,000 less to spend for the next school year.

Van Zandbergen proposed Byemoor be a virtual school, where home-schooled students could register, either in a blended program or remain completely home-schooled, but in contact with school resources.

Such a proposal could potentially increase revenue, he said.

Byemoor’s enrolment is projected to increase by three students next year, which could help ease budget cuts.

Board chair Ken Checkel reassured a crowd of about 50 that all schools in the division would remain open for 2013-14 and grade configurations would remain the same.

He said the Class Size Initiative funding would come to the schools in a new formula. The Small Schools by Necessity funding would remain the same.

A four-day school week was discussed. It would save transportation costs, but not necessarily help individual school budgets, trustees told the crowd.

A resident asked if a transportation agreement had been reached with the Catholic school board on co-operative busing to save money.

Bailey said that discussion is ongoing.

The next community consultation meeting is scheduled for tonight at Donalda. The meetings continue throughout the district in the next couple of months.