Campbell River School District adds 30 new teachers, dips into reserves to balance final budget

The Campbell River School District employs 30 new teachers this year compared to last year thanks to new funding that was mandated by the Supreme Court.

That extra funding accounted for the biggest change in this year’s final budget compared to last year, said Kevin Patrick, secretary and treasurer for the school district.

“From last year to this year the biggest change that is accounted in there is the Classroom Enhancement Fund, about $2.2/$2.3 million worth of revenues is reported in that $57 million…the Ministry has provided what they say is full funding for it in that amount,” Patrick said.

The Classroom Enhancement Fun is accounted for in the special purpose fund.

“The staffing is great,” Patrick said. “It is a little tricky for HR and finance because we actually have a 30 person entity being managed separately.”

The final budget, approved by the board on Feb. 27, shows a deficit of around $800,000, however Patrick said that the board budgeted an $800,000 draw from reserves, so in the end they are on track.

“I’d just like to commend the board on that work of maintaining that surplus in times when people said spend it, but you never know what is going to happen from budget to budget and I am glad that this board had the foresight to make sure that the district is going to be okay,” said Trustee Daryl Hagen.

Other changes between the preliminary and final budget include 60 less full time equivalent credits.

“We made an error,” Patrick said. “At a school we had made a claim, double booked some credits, we got audited and we lost those credits.”

However, it wasn’t exactly a decrease in the budget, because the district shouldn’t have had those funds in the first place, Patrick explained.

There was also an increase in operations and maintenance expenses since the preliminary budget was passed because of the technology plan that was implemented.

“The tech plan was passed after the preliminary budget was passed so the tech plan cost are being basically captured in the budget with this amended budget,” Patrick said.

However, an increase in value of the school boards assets reflects that investment in technology, Patrick added.

A cause for concern is that with the recently announced federal and provincial budgets, there will be no funding increase for education.

“As the cost pressures come, at this point we all have to be covered under existing funds with the block amounts staying the same, the only difference being the number of students that we gain or lose,” Patrick said.