The Campbell River School Board has approved the use of up to $840,000 from its unrestricted reserves.
A motion to support the use of up to 1/3 of the current $2.5-million surplus if it’s needed to balance the 2020/21 budget was passed at the April 21 virtual meeting. The motion came before the finance department began the budget process for the next school year.
Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board that they’re in a good financial position.
“Even if there’s an unexpected surprise next year like there was last year, the board is in a very good financial position to address and deal with those surprises and to still be able to support the programs we have in place,” he said.
The pandemic has left its mark on the school district.
“COVID has definitely had its impact and there is a risk that it may impact funding,” said Patrick. “Right now we have in-class suspension with students learning from home. As we head into September of next year, that may continue.”
He said the district will have to wait to hear from the ministry about how it will be funding next year.
In his report to the board, Patrick said it’s been helpful in the past to know how much of the surplus the board would like to use before the budget process begins.
“Use of an appropriation reduces the amount of reductions required,” his report said.
The board had a surplus of $2,518,538, which does not include the $1,131,304 emergency contingency.
The report urged trustees to “exercise caution” in the use of surplus this year. It asks them to weigh the desire to spend the surplus against the impact of the COVID-19 in-class instruction suspension and how that may impact fall enrollment, wage increases, the future need of surplus to fund capital projects and the change in the ministry’s funding formula for the next school year.
As he answered trustee questions, Patrick said the district isn’t alone in its ministry funding questions.
“There’s 60 other districts dealing with the same thing.”
The motion was passed unanimously. A preliminary 2020/21 budget is expected at the May 12 meeting.