Principals may not have welcomed students back to class yet, but soon they’ll welcome more funding from School District No. 46 (SD46).
At an Aug. 27 special board meeting secretary treasurer Nicholas Weswick announced the district has about $1.6 million in unrestricted surplus to “push out to schools” this year.
The money comes from savings during the teachers’ strike ($240,000 through unpaid wages and transportation savings when kids weren’t attending school) as well as an over-budgeting in the teachers’ long term and short term sick account and savings from unfilled maintenance positions last year.
“We hope for an immediate surplus allocation and I think the board has made it fairly clear in the past that they want to see the resources go out to the school-based decision making centres, the schools, earlier in the year in order to accommodate increased divisions, increased course offerings and more resources directly supporting kids,” Weswick said, cautioning trustees not to spend all of the $1.6 million right now.
“We are going into a year of funding protection, so what that means is that our operating revenue is going to remain the same, but if we have higher than budgeted enrolment, the board is actually allocating additional funds to schools and doesn’t have those resources to allocate, so we could end up in an operating deficit depending on enrolment levels. We won’t know that for sure until the Sept. 30 enrolment counts.”
With that in mind Weswick asked trustees to hold back $470,000 for a buffer.
“That would equal about a $1.2 million allocation for Sept. 1 so that when school is in session this will be able to add resources, divisions and support staff earlier in the year and then depending on enrolment counts that will help define how the remaining $470,000 would be allocated,” Weswick said.
Trustees were in favour of the idea.
“I think each school needs this money to make decisions that are specific to their schools,” said trustee Christine Younghusband.
Trustee Greg Russell added the $470,000 hold back was important because once a settlement is reached with teachers the province might look to school districts to help pay costs incurred.
“I think it’s prudent that we be in a position to absorb some of those costs because we don’t want to be one of the schools to claw back something,” Russell noted.
When the question was called all of the board was in favour of sending $1.2 million out to schools to be spent as needed on students this year and saving $470,000 for future school district needs.
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