Following weeks of protests, presentations and controversy, the Greater Victoria School District announced Monday morning it is postponing its budget vote until further notice.
The vote, which was scheduled to occur Monday night, would have had the board of trustees vote on whether to pass the proposed 2021-2022 budget.
Since it was publicly announced in early April, there has been public outcry around the original $7 million deficit and proposed cuts to music programs, educational assistants, reading programs and supports for vulnerable students. Cuts to music programs, in particular, have incited strong backlash from students, parents, teachers and Victoria-born musicians David Foster and Bryce Dane Soderberg.
During its April 27 meeting, the board voted to put $500,000 back into music programs and $400,000 back into educational assistants, drawing on adjustments to its projected enrollment numbers and administrative cuts.
Community members have also been concerned about the district’s approach to Indigenous learners throughout its budget talks, prompting a letter from the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association expressing its disgust over a “pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership” and the resignation of Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee member Carey Newman, who cited systemic racism.
In its statement Monday morning, the district said it has heard the feedback from the community and has decided it is necessary to postpone the budget vote. Board chair Jordan Watters and superintendent Shelley Green have asked the ministry of education to assign an independent advisor to help review the process and make recommendations to the board.
The board has until the end of June to submit a completed budget to the province.
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