School board budget presentations continue in QC, Sandspit

  • May. 9, 2008 4:00 p.m.

The school district will hold final presentations on its 2008-09 budget in Queen Charlotte Monday (May 12) and Sandspit Tuesday (May 13), after unveiling the proposed budget Wednesday in Masset.The district is considering a status quo budget for the 2008-09 school year, one that will see slightly fewer students and teachers in the district. School District Secretary-Treasure Ken Campbell madepublic budget presentation in Masset May 7. He called the changes the new budget will bring ‘minor’. He said there will be three fewer teachers next year if the budget is accepted, but no one will be laid off, that resignations and attrition will make the adjustment. He also is budgeting for three less special education assistants and half a position less in the board office. The district is anticipating spending $10,228,144 in the coming year, and will have to kick in $246,000 from surplus funds to cover the shortfall between what it plans to spend and what it receives from all sources. Enrolment in the district has been declining in recent years, and is expected to continue dropping until at least 2014. This year, there are 722 students in islands’ schools, and next year that number is projected to drop to 702. As recently as eight years ago, there were 1,000 students or more in the district. “Until the numbers in Kindergarten and Grade 1 are greater than those leaving (in grade 12), we’ll have declining enrolment,” Mr. Campbell said. This year, for example, there are 58 students in Grade 12, and only 38 in Kindergarten. Meanwhile, provincial funding is growing, from a recent low of just over $8.7-million in 2004/05 (when there were 781 students) to just over $9.7-million for next year (with 702 students). Per-pupil funding is increasing as well, with just over $13,000 to be spent per student next year in this district, substantially above the provincial average of just over $8,000. As well as reducing the number of teachers by three for next year, the proposed budget will cut half a position in the board office and drop three support positions in special education. Mr. Campbell said the special education positions depend entirely on the number of special education students, and that while he is budgeting for reducing three, if more special ed students show up, there’ll be money to pay them. The proposed budget will see 70-percent of district funds spend on instruction, 17-percent on maintenance (which includes utilities), 7-percent on administration and 6-percent on transportation. “It’s important to remember that this is a draft budget,” Mr. Campbell told those attending the Masset presentation, “the board will have to make the decision at the end of June. There are still adjustments that can be made. Whatever they do, (the board) needs to send in a balanced budget by the end of June.” The board will begin the adoption process of its final budget when in meets in Port Clements May 27, with the budget adopted at the board meeting June 24 in Queen Charlotte. The district operates two high schools and four elementary schools and employs 44 teachers, 9 administrators and 48 support staff.The meeting in Queen Charlotte will be at the high school, 7 pm Monday May 12, and the one in Sandspit at the school, 7:15 pm Tuesday May 13.

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