Students, teachers and parents protested for nearly two months against proposed cuts to SD61 music programs. (Black Press Media file photo)

Students, teachers and parents protested for nearly two months against proposed cuts to SD61 music programs. (Black Press Media file photo)

SD61 budget approved, majority of music programs saved

Cuts reduced from $7 million to $4.7 million using projected surplus

The Greater Victoria School District approved its much-anticipated budget Thursday night, with many cuts, but also several saves.

The biggest change by far, was a reversal on the district’s original proposal to eliminate nearly all elementary and middle school music programs. Instead of the initial $1.5 million, only $80,000 (five per cent) of the programs’ budget will be cut. So, board chair Jordan Watters said, all the key programs – band, strings, choir, ukelele, drumming – will remain, but there may be slightly fewer options – say, show choir, for example.

READ ALSO: Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Other items of community concern that were saved are the reading recovery program, education assistants and youth and family counsellors. In addition, the board followed through on its decision to inject a further $427,000 into K-5 literacy.

In total, the district reduced cuts from the original $7 million to $4.7 million, using projected surplus dollars.

“The trade off is we’ve depleted our reserve to under a million dollars,” Watters said.

This is the opposite of what the district set out to do this year when it was hoping to change its accounting practices to rely less on unknown surplus amounts and work more within its means. But, Watters said, they heard the community loud and clear and the board decided a pandemic year was not the time for big decisions.

“We have in some ways kicked the can down the road,” she said, noting that next year the board will be dealing with the same problems. The board plans to make some changes to its next budget process though, including involving the community more.

At the end of September, Watters said they will launch a series of advisory tables.

READ ALSO: ‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

And, the board set aside a small fund to address reconciliation and anti-racism. Watters said they haven’t determined exactly how the $50,000 will be used, but it will likely go to professional development and training. The district received considerable criticism during its budget process for its approach to Indigenous learners, prompting the resignation of an Indigenous committee member and a letter from the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association calling out a pattern of colonial thinking.

With the lingering, two-decade-long issue of public education being critically underfunded, the board chair said, it’ll be imperative for the province to step up as schools take on more responsibilities – such as ensuring access to youth mental health programs.

“There has been a growing gap between the needs of our students and the funding coming in,” Watters said. “If we want all our students to achieve their full potential, we need to provide the conditions for success.”

READ: Hot days have Greater Victoria strawberry growers hastily picking to meet demand


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

EducationGreater Victoriasd61

Just Posted

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

Camper the dog was found Wednesday night by someone walking their own dog along Hollywood Crescent. She had gone missing after a violent attack on June 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Camper the dog found safe after fleeing violent van attack in Victoria

Camper was found on Hollywood Crescent Wednesday night

North Saanich is in the process of revising its tree protection bylaw. The proposed changes have drawn much public interest and criticism, as council heard this week during their special meeting on the matter. (Courtesy District of North Saanich)
Revisions to tree protection bylaw in North Saanich face cutting criticism

Councillors to take up issue again in August after staff summarize massive public feedback

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

Rendering of the proposed design for the new public safety building in Esquimalt. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt’s borrowing plan authorized for new public safety building

Alternate approval process didn’t garner enough opposition to warrant public vote

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Laid-off Great Canadian Gaming Corp. workers in B.C. launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed on April 6 at Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo

A float plane crashed into the waters near Painters Lodge in Campbell River on Thursday morning. Photo by Alistair Taylor / Campbell River Mirror
Float plane crashes into water near Campbell River

Pilot uninjured, plane hit sandbar while landing

John Kromhoff with some of the many birthday cards he received from ‘pretty near every place in the world’ after the family of the Langley centenarian let it be known that he wasn’t expecting many cards for his 100th birthday. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Cards from all over the world flood in for B.C. man’s 100th birthday

An online invitation by his family produced a flood of cards to mark his 100th birthday

FILE – Nurse Iciar Bercian prepares a shot at a vaccine clinic for the homeless in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
B.C. scientists to study effectiveness of COVID vaccines in people with HIV

People living with HIV often require higher doses of other vaccines

A 50-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle Tuesday, June 15, crashing through a West Vancouver school fence that surrounds playing children. (West Vancouver Police)
Driver ticketed for speeding near B.C. school crashes into playground fence days later

‘It’s an absolute miracle that nobody was injured,’ says Const. Kevin Goodmurphy

Dr. Réka Gustafson, who is British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer, speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on April 8, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. public health officials prepare to manage COVID-19 differently in the future

Flu-like? Health officials anticipate shift from pandemic to communicable disease control strategies

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Most Read