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School District 46 unveils preliminary budget

‘It's not a question of adding resources, it's a question of rebalancing and reprioritizing our resources’: Nicholas Weswick, School District 46 Secretary-Treasurer

School District 46  presented its preliminary round of 2024-2025 school year budget deliberations on Dec. 14, highlighting the district’s needs and priorities. 


The total expenses for the school district over 2023 were $55.4 million.

Nicholas Weswick, secretary-treasurer for School District 46, stated that 84 per cent of the school district's budget went toward salaries and benefits, while the remaining 16 per cent was allocated to supplies and services: for transportation contracts, maintenance expenses and most purchases made by schools. 

The largest individual cost was teacher salaries, amounting to $20.7 million and making up 38 per cent of the budget.

Other expenses of note were principal and vice principal salaries, which cost $2.9 million and services and supplies, which cost $9 million.

Current and ongoing priorities

Kate Kerr, superintendent of schools, spoke to the district's priorities including supporting staff and student mental health and improving equity and inclusion curriculum changes. To support these priorities, a human resources review was completed and implemented, Kerr said. Benefits of the review have included improved fill rates for absent teachers and reduced stress levels among instructors, she said.

Operational costs 

Weswick highlighted some anticipated costs for the coming year. He explained that as the district improves fill rates for sick leave, the cost to cover sick days also follows suit. 

“We've seen [sick leave costs] increase since COVID and we'll likely see them jump to the highest yet as a result of our ability to replace more staff,” he said.

Weswick said that the district is facing a significant amount of inflationary pressure, stating the cost of their student transportation system, materials purchased to maintain schools as well as general school supplies have all increased sharply.

He also said that the current teacher laptop term ended this year, so new laptops will be needed for next year, and that the cost of technology has also increased.

Continued increases in overall student enrollment will help mitigate some of these costs, Weswick said. 

Capital expenditures 

SD46 applies for capital funding from the province on a project-led basis, Weswick said. 

The first project Weswick mentioned, the school district’s plan to retrofit school washrooms to include gender-neutral washrooms and change rooms, has already had a positive impact on student safety, he said. 

The school district is also in the process of replacing its school bus fleet with electric buses, recently ordering two, and the remaining school buses have transitioned to propane fuel from diesel, said Weswick.

One capital request for next year will be to expand Gibsons Elementary, which has seen a significant enrollment increase and is using three portable classrooms.

Weswick said that they have also requested funding to complete a structural upgrade of the Sunshine building, formally known as the Sechelt Elementary building.

Other capital projects mentioned were finding a new transportation facility as SD46 grows its fleet, as well as a technology infrastructure update, what Weswick called the backbone of their connected schools.  

What drives the budget?

Amanda Amaral, SD46 board chair, said that the school district and board are creating a new strategic plan for the next five years. This will be the roadmap for their budgeting over these five years and will set the tone and direction for schools’ spending. 

Weswick added that the school district is looking to update its growth plan as well as its operational planning process to make sure they are aligned with the new strategic plan.

He said that many of these decisions will have a budget implication attached, while others will be implemented into existing budget considerations or by shifting how internal budgets are allocated.

“It's not a question of adding resources,” said Weswick. “It's a question of rebalancing and reprioritizing our resources to make sure that they're achieving the highest and best good.”


Consultation will continue in the new year, with public and stakeholder sessions and outreach. In March there is a statutory requirement for the ministry to make a funding announcement. The district will start allocating funds to different schools in April and final budget approvals must be done by the end of SD46’s fiscal year, June 30. 

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.