School district financial woes growing

  • Jan. 17, 2005 5:00 a.m.

There are fewer students in islands’ schools, and that’s causing a major headache for the school district, as its funding is dropping as well.
The district, which operates on an annual budget of about $9-million, may be facing a deficit this school year between $200,000 and $300,000, according to secretary-treasurer Andrea deBucy. That’s up from a predicted $150,000 a few months ago.
And the district is going to have trouble balancing the books, likely meaning continuing problems next year as well.
“I don’t know if we can find it this year. We may end up with a deficit”, she said, adding that while the district is not supposed to do that, Victoria may agree that it’s OK.
The problem stems from dropping enrolment, since provincial funding is mostly based on the number of students. In 2000, there were 1001 students in the district’s schools; this year there are just 820.
Right now, district officials are scrambling to find ways to save money. So far, principals have agreed to cut school spending on supplies, telephone and books by 10-percent, school district trustees have also agreed to take a 10-percent reduction and the maintenance department is going to cut its spending as well. In total, these add up to about $100,000, still far short of the $200,000 to $300,000 deficit Ms deBucy now predicts. She does note however that there are a lot of variables and that it’s difficult to make an accurate prediction.
The board is not likely to cut teaching or other staff positions she said, since to do so in the middle of a school year would be too disruptive, but continues to look for other ways to cut costs. The board and senior managers met January 11 to come up with some ideas, which will be made public when the board meets in Masset January 25.