Funding up, deficit remains for SD72

The budget increase next year is due significantly to a $1.3 million increase resulting from the labour settlement

School District 72 will see a projected increase of more than $437,000 for its 2015-16 budget, but the district remains in a structural deficit for the foreseeable future, the Board of Trustees learned during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The district received its preliminary funding grant from the Ministry of Education March 12, of $48,424,337. This represents an increase over the final current-year budget of $47.987 million, but is subject to change when actual enrolment figures are submitted after the school year begins.

“This is the preliminary amount based on our forecasted estimate of students,” treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board. “We do a final count in September of the actual number of students, and our funding amount will be revised.”

The budget increase next year is due significantly to a $1.3 million increase resulting from the labour settlement following last year’s job action by the BC Teachers’ Federation. That amount was offset by revenue lost to decreased enrolment of 49 students, a reduction in special education funding, the annual removal of Ministry holdback dollars, and $295,000 in provincially mandated administrative savings, resulting in the $437,213 net increase.

A portion of that increase results from the planned resumption of summer school this year, after 2014’s summer term was scrapped during the the teachers’ job action.

Responding to a question from Trustee Daryl Hagen, Patrick said the district maintains a structural deficit of $1.2 million.

“That amount is forecasted to increase by about $300,000 next year, and I would suggest (the increase) is consistent with that moving forward each year.”

The $300,000 estimated annual deficit is essentially the amount of the administration savings mandated by the province.

“We’ll be moving into the budget process right after spring break,” Patrick told the board. “We will have what the deficit is and hopefully work out a plan on how to balance a budget that the board is prepared to pass.”

Finally, Patrick also informed the board that SD72 remains in provincial funding protection to the amount of $72,000.

The province uses funding protection to limit school districts’ year-over-year budget reductions to no more than 1.5 per cent, not including labour settlement amounts.

Patrick noted that an increase in actual enrolment in September would not result in an increased grant, but a reduction in the funding protection balance.

“Once we’re over that $72,000, any (cost) increases to student services, aboriginal education or enrolment would lead to an increase in grants that the board could allocate,” Patrick said.