Funding stable, costs up as school district presents budget

  • Apr. 11, 2011 2:00 p.m.

There were few surprises as the school board presented its draft, preliminary budget at the first of its two public consultation meetings in Masset April 6. The board is expecting $9.7 million from the province for the school year 2011-12, exactly the same as the current year. But that doesn’t mean no cuts, as expenditures continue to rise. “Even though we get the same funding, without making any cuts, we couldn’t break even,” Secretary/Treasurer Ken Campbell told the nine people who attended. Next year, there will be 2.3 full time equivalent (FTE) teachers fewer in the district, support staff will be reduced 2.28 FTE, board office staff will be reduced .8 FTE, while benefits will increase 1 percent, and cost of supplies and maintenance will go up as well. “For this (coming) year, we are lucky,” Mr. Campbell said, “because our new Premier Christy Clark said that not one district should lose funding.” This provides the board with an extra $365,000 it likely won’t get again. The district continues to lose students, and the province bases funding on student numbers. This year, there are 664 students in islands’ schools, and the board is projecting 18 fewer next year. “As our enrolment declines, our teachers decline as well,” Mr. Campbell said. A chart he presented showed 45 teachers in the district this year and 43 next year, down from just under 60 ten years ago. The pupil teacher ratio is expected to be 14.9 district-wide next year, up from 14.1 this year and 13.9 in 2009-10. Budget highlights, according to documents made public by the board, include no salary increases for teachers or support staff, an increase in $60,500 to cover teacher increment costs (where the longer a teacher works, the more he or she makes), an increase of $42,000 to cover higher utility costs, a decrease of $13,000 on vehicle leasing, an increase of $15,000 to cover the trustee election in November and an increase of $15,000 for maintenance supplies. The board plans to spend $7.3 million on instruction, $639,000 on administration (board office and trustees), $1.6 million on operations and maintenance and $478,000 on transportation and housing.The district’s total budget for next year is projected to be $10,286,736, when money from the band councils and grant money is added in.The board will present the finalized budget when it meets in May, then adopt it in June. It has to be sent to Victoria by the end of June.