Another budget cycle begins at School District 72

School District 72 has decided on the consultation process and adoption schedule for next year’s budget, and they have some ideas about how that process will look after confirming their “guiding principles” for the budget at last week’s public meeting of the Board of Education.

Those nine guiding principles involve transparency, processes that are consultative, finding efficiencies wherever possible and the assertion that the district will, “approve a budget with integrity, taking into account the elements of fairness and equality,” according to the district document outlining those principles.

“As staff within the school board and parents through PAC will participate in the budget process – developing it for consideration by the board – it’s useful to have some guiding principles as to how staff should try to going about things,” Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board about the reasoning behind having those principles in place.

The amount of money the district will have for their budgeting is expected to remain essentially unchanged. The government bases their funding model on FTE (full-time equivalent) numbers in a respective district, with kindergarten and elementary school children each counting as 1.0 FTE, and middle and high school students being calculated based on the number of classes they take. Secondary students are funded at .125 FTE for each course they enrol in, for example.

The district’s projections say 5,229 FTE are expected next year in SD72 – five more than this year – meaning the enrolment decline seen over the past number of years seems to have subsided, but it’s not expected to increase in any significant way any time soon.

Nor is the amount per student coming from the government.

Secretary-Treasurer Patrick told the board at last week’s meeting not to expect more per-pupil next year than the current FTE rate they receive.

“Quite simply,” Patrick told the board, “the province of B.C. announced their budget, and of consequence to the board, there was no new money announced for education.”

So the budget will be built on the 5,229 FTE projection using the per-pupil funding model provided to districts by the Ministry of Education, “hopefully on March 11,” Patrick told the board, “and then on Sept. 30, the actual number of students will have been counted and the board will be able to prepare a final budget.”

Partner groups – consisting of parent advisory councils (PACs), district staff and others – will begin meeting this month to discuss next year’s budget. Three key dates for the public to be aware of are April 19 – when initial budget information will be reviewed by the board and the district PAC – May 3, which is the deadline for public submissions or presentations, and the May 10 public board meeting, at which those presentations will take place and submissions will be considered.

Potential adoption of the 2016/2017 budget is scheduled for the May 31 public meeting of the board at the School District offices on Pinecrest Road next to Rod Brind’Amour Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Anyone wishing to make a submission or presentation for consideration during this process should contact Lee-Ann Kruse in the Secretary-Treasurer’s office at 250-830-2302.