School board draws on reserves

The lion’s share of the district’s operating expenses are in the form of salaries

The School District 72 board of trustees approved final passage of the district’s preliminary 2015-16 budget during its regular meeting May 26 at the school board office.

The total budget for next school year is $59,361,217 an increase of $1.65 million over the current year budget.

“After the last presentation at the last meeting (May 5) we requested any public input and there wasn’t any follow-up on that,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick told trustees. “So tonight we have that budget ready for approval through a bylaw.”

The 2015-16 budget includes a draw of $843,928 from the district’s unrestricted reserve, to help offset an overall deficit of roughly $1.2 million. Another $395,000 of that deficit resulted from a cut in funding from the Ministry of Education, which mandated the savings come from the administrative budget. That led to the approval of a separate bylaw by trustees to establish a communication strategy to keep the public informed of the impacts of the provincial funding cuts, which will continue for at least the next two years.

Tuesday’s vote included three readings of the budget bill. It was made without discussion, though trustees engaged in a lively conversation about the budget when it was first unveiled by Patrick on May 5.

“At the last board meeting we presented a summary of where the budget ended up after two months of consultations, presentations and a lot of hard work compiling that info by the assistant secretary-treasurer,” Patrick said.

The preliminary budget, which is required to be approved each spring, will be revised during the 2015-16 school year after final enrolment numbers are determined. The bulk of the district’s funding — approximately $50 million — comes from the Ministry of Education in the form of operating grants based on a per-student funding model.

The lion’s share of the district’s operating expenses are in the form of salaries for teachers, building administrators, education assistants, support staff, substitutes and other professionals. Those salaries and benefits total $45.5 million for the coming school year.