School trustees and district staff have been working on the 2015/16 school year budget since January. On Feb. 23 the first draft of the budget was released.
It is basically a status quo budget which means that this draft of the budget maintains everything we had in the current year’s preliminary budget, with the assumption government will fully fund all collective agreement increased costs as promised but is impacted by decreased funding from the Ministry of Education as they phase out funding protection and the targeted grant to support implementation of the BC Education Plan will be removed.
With those assumptions we are projecting a $590,000 deficit. By spring break the grants to the district will be finalized by the Ministry of Education and shared.
At the same time we will be provided with more details regarding the “administrative savings” announced in the BC budget and the resulting impact to our district. Once the financial impact is known the board may need to revise their budget position (i.e. the projected deficit may have to be adjusted to reflect a higher amount).
Our student enrolment this year was less than projected and we are projecting further decline for 2015/16. Our preliminary budget for 2014/15 was based on 3,786 students and we put in place enough teacher staffing for that many students. When this school year started our actual enrolment was only around 3,700 but we did not reduce teacher staffing even though we had almost 80 fewer students. Now for 2015/16 we are projecting about 3,667 students and will allocate teacher staffing accordingly.
Based on what we already know for 2015/16, we have made a number of operational adjustments which have reduced our initial draft budget deficit projection from $590,000 down to just over $350,000. The big unknown which remains is what our district will be required to save in addition to this $350,000 as part of the overall administrative savings.
In an effort to be transparent, we are releasing a long list of various options still being considered to help balance the budget. We recognize that the list is far reaching. We also are very sensitive to the fact that many of the items on the list impact employee’s livelihoods. Our desire today is to inform you about some ways the board is considering to balance the budget. No decisions have been made.
Over the next two months the board will continue conversations with the district parent advisory council, Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, and CUPE representatives as well as the management team.
On Wednesday, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kootenay-Columbia Learning Centre’s Trail campus (formerly known as Trail Middle School) a public presentation of the proposed balanced 2015/16 budget will be made.
No decisions will be made that evening. The public board discussion on the budget’s second reading is scheduled for Monday, April 27 at 7 p.m. at the same location as part of the regular board meeting. The third and final reading (which does not include debate) is on Friday, May 1 at 5 p.m.
The various items being considered to help balance the budget can be found appended to this letter below.
The top of the document highlights the current projected deficit, followed by a number of operational adjustments based on what we already know. The board will need to decide which items, from all the various options listed or other items that come up between now and the end of April, it will need to implement in order to balance the budget.
Please feel free to share your thoughts with trustees or attend the public meetings. The board would like to hear your thoughts on what is most important to you about your child’s education, ideas you might have to save money or generate funds. You can provide input to the board via a brief survey on the district website. Another option is you can share your thoughts with our district parent advisory council. Chair Rebecca McDonnell, a parent from Kinnaird Elementary, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kootenay Columbia schools