The board of education for School District passed its final amended budget at the last meeting in February.
At the Feb. 26 meeting, trustees agreed to hold all the readings for the amended budget bylaw and subsequently approved the document.
The amended budget is the updated version of the preliminary budget, which boards pass late in the previous school year for the upcoming year. The amended budget includes updated totals for revenue and expenses based the number of students attending schools rather than on projected numbers.
The board passed the preliminary version in May 2018. This version of the document aligns stakeholder feedback with the board’s priorities, and the process for the final version differs from the preliminary.
“We generally don’t take any of that previous feedback, even if there is additional money and add or change things,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board.
The district will update the budget, for example, if there are more students by adding staff, or by adjusting benefits if these change.
Total revenue is $67,629,667 with costs pegged at $69,708,203, translating into an overall deficit of $2,078,536. Planned spending of $1.562 million from savings and a planned operating deficit of $517,000 are included in this deficit.
The approved budget bylaw amount, which includes total operating and capital expenses, capital and operations tangible capital assets purchased and special purpose funds, came in at $70,846,618.
Notable changes in the amended budget are an increase of 16 full-time equivalent (FTE) students over projects for the preliminary budget and the addition of three major cost items: reconfiguration work at Timberline, expansion work at schools and the implementation of the MyEdBC student information system. These are items that have arisen since the preliminary budget was passed.
“Those dollars have been included in here as well,” Patrick said.
Another area that was different, he noted, was in the number of students requiring special education funding. The Ministry of Education sets out supplemental funding needs in several categories. The school district had projected 235 students at level 2 but the actual count ended up 252. Level 2 includes moderate to profound intellectual disability; physical disability or chronic health impairment; visual impairment; deaf or hard of hearing; and autism spectrum disorder. There was also a significant difference in level 3 students, which refers to students requiring intensive behaviour interventions or with serious mental illness. The district projected 80 students but ended up with 114. The total difference for categorized students amounted to a difference of just over $718,000 more than anticipated.
“As those numbers come in, we do adjust staffing to match and support those students,” Patrick said. “When we built the budget, we do build in reserves.”