School board gives non-union employees raise

Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST – Non-union employees at the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) will get a 2.5 per cent raise.

Gary Clarke, superintendent at the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, during a recent board meeting.

“The raise will affect 60 non-union employees,” said Debbie Buott-Matheson, communications manager at the CCRSB.

Buott-Mathieson said the 2.5 per cent raise will cost a total of $80,000 per fiscal year.

The motion for the pay raise was tabled, and then passed during the regular monthly meeting of the CCRSB Wednesday night at Amherst Regional High School.

Reductions in student enrollment were also tabled at the meeting.

There were 20,954 students in Sept. 30, 2012. Enrollment so far in 2013 is 20,551 for a reduction of 403.

Between Sept. 2011 and Sept. 2012, enrolment was down by 339 students, and there was a reduction of 457 students between Sept. 2010 and Sept. 2011.

Final enrolment numbers for 2013 won’t be official until Sept. 30.

Also tabled at the meeting were financial statements audited by the accounting firm, Grant Thornton.

With revenues of $193,741,633, and expenses of $193,702,392, the 2012-2013 CCRSB fiscal budget showed a surplus of $39,241.

“$18,000 of that is board funds and $21,000 of that is school-based funds,” said Gary Clarke, board superintendent, during the meeting.

The board faces a budget reduction of $2.5 million this fiscal year, for a total of $12.8 million reduction over three years.

“Last year when we balanced that budget, we had to take another 36.7 employees out of our system,” said Clarke.

“Taking $12.8 million out of the system over a three year period has been really difficult,” added Clarke. “We’re having difficulty trying to manage the reductions and all the people that entailed."

Clarke said the reduction in revenue has not reduced what people expect from education in the CCRSB region.

“All of our system, right across every department, has had to tighten up and reduce,” he added. “The financial pressures cause us to look for efficiencies…and when we look for efficiencies we don’t always please everybody.

“Expectations are still very high but when you take $12.8 million out of the system you can’t keep the system as you always did.”

Despite the cuts, Clarke said students in the CCRSB are still doing well.

Grade 3 and 6 reading and writing assessment show students in the region at or above the provincial average.

Grade 6 students do lag a little behind the rest of the province in mathematics.

“We were two per cent behind the provincial average,” said Clarke. “Last year was the first year the math test was written and of course we will look at those results and learn from them and, ultimately, maximize the success of our students in the future.”

Organizations: Amherst Regional High School, Grant Thornton

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