Burnaby parents responded in droves to an online budget survey this month, and cuts to school libraries were their biggest concern.
The school board is exploring more than $3.5 million in cuts, including the equivalent of more than 30 jobs, to cover a projected net deficit of more than $2.4 million next year.
In an online survey, the district parent advisory council (DPAC) asked local parents to say which of the proposed cuts they opposed and which they supported.
The poll garnered 1,627 responses, compared to 586 when DPAC surveyed parents on the budget last year
“Parents are concerned about the state of the education budget,” DPAC chair Jen Mezei said about the increased response. “When you do small cuts every year, it starts to take a toll, and I think parents are aware of what’s going on, and so I think they wanted an opportunity to have input.”
By far the biggest concern, Mezei said, was a proposed plan to cut the equivalent of nearly three elementary teacher-librarian jobs.
“Parents were really against that cut,” she said.
Parents also felt strongly about proposed cuts to high school lab assistants (2.5 FTE), high school library staff (0.6 FTE), English language staff (two FTE), elementary band (0.2 FTE) and high school daily physical activity, CP and GT staff (1.5 FTE).
Mezei said parents also submitted comments about the importance of protecting special-needs services and the district’s music programs.
“Basically parents didn’t want to see cuts in the classrooms and to services that directly affect students,” the DPAC chair said.
When it came to listing which cuts they supported, however, Mezei said many parents wrote comments instead, saying they shouldn’t have to decide.
“Parents feel they’ve been put in an untenable position where they actually have to choose,” Mezei said. “They don’t want to choose what to cut because they don’t think we should be in a place where we should be cutting.”
The survey results were presented to the board Tuesday.
Trustees are scheduled to vote on the district’s 2015/16 preliminary budget at a public meeting April 28.