The province gives and the province takes away

Funding increases for SD 72 this year but decreases next year

School District 72 received some good news and some bad news from its secretary-treasurer at a board of education meeting Jan. 10.

The district will receive more funding from the province than expected this school year but less than expected next year.

The biggest reduction for the 2012/13 school year will be in funding protection dollars, which are allotted to school districts to give them time to adjust to declining numbers, and as a consequence, declining funding.

This school year, school district 72 was awarded $508,000 in funding protection as well as $492,000 in enrolment decline funding.

Next year, however, those amounts will be significantly reduced.

Neale said based on the new funding formula, the school district will only be allowed protection dollars when overall funding drops below 98.5 per cent of the prior year funding. That means the school district will need to budget for up to a 1.5 per cent reduction in funding if there is declining enrolment.

“To understand the impact of this change, if we assume the new formula was applied for 2011/12 budget cycle we would have not qualified for funding protection and would have needed to plan for operational savings of an additional $508,084,” Neale said.

In the last budget, the board had already made cuts to shave off $816,000 and would have needed to consider the additional $508,084 shortfall in its budget planning.

Neale said it’s possible that the budget for next school year could have a $775,069 shortfall based on the funding reduction.

“It is important to note that with the funding decline, our structural deficit is likely to increase further due to uncontrolled factors, such as MSP rates, benefit and pension rates, and BC Hydro costs to name a few,” Neale said. “Other changes in funding for 2012/13 are expected for transportation, small school and CommunityLINK. Based on information to date, it is not clear what budget impact these will have.”

Meanwhile, the financial picture for the current school year is looking a little brighter.

For the 2011/12 budget, the provincial government is expected to dole out an extra $115 per student in one-time funding, plus an increase in special education funding ($174,200), Aboriginal Education funding ($56,840), and English as a Second Language funding ($32,160).

Peter Neale, school district secretary-treasurer, said the new totals will figure in to this school year’s budget.

“We will be considering these revised revenue dollars in the final budget being prepared for the end of February,” Neale said. “We do not anticipate any needed changes in staffing or expenditures from the revised revenue information.

“At this time, we are planning to use the additional dollars for consideration in the 2012/2013 budget cycle to address the funding reductions.”