Board plans balanced budget

As required by the Ministry of Education, trustees gave unanimous consent to an amended budget bylaw for the 2010/11 school year.

“Once unanimous approval is received, we can then move to adopt the budget bylaw,” said secretary-treasurer Randy Hoffman at Tuesday’s district board meeting. “This is a balanced budget, which we have always maintained.

“So these are our projections, our best understanding of where we are at. We are working on final funding announcements and have submitted our enrolment projections, and as always, we are graduating more kids than are entering kindergarten.”

The bylaw reflects the actual and projected revenues and expenditures for this fiscal year based on a number of key indicators: enrolment is 1.6 per cent higher than the preliminary budget, the result is that the district increased its revenues by 1.3 per cent.

“The increased enrolment and increased special needs students results in additional staffing in teachers and support staff,” said Hoffman.

Teaching staff increased over the preliminary budget by four; education assistants by 10; other support staff by two.

Salary and benefit costs as a result of increased staffing and cost pressures such as benefit, sick and relief staff costs increased by 2.2 per cent.

“So, while we had an enrolment decline, we also had an increase in other areas, such as a 21 per cent increase in water rates as well as benefit costs.”

The inclusion of the prior year’s appropriated surplus is brought forward and presumed to be spent and committed in this fiscal year is primarily in the supplies and services category.

The annual budget set forward in April was set at $75,078,257, amended in the budget bylaw to $78,696,599.

The board will make a budget recommendation for the next school year on April 26, based on the allocation of ministry funding expected to be received in the middle of March.

“In the meantime, work in preparing enrolment projections to use for the budget and  reviewing the major expenditure areas is under way at the board office,” said Hoffman. “We expect continued declining enrolment and inflationary pressures from benefit programs, employee statutory benefits, utilities and the cost of the carbon offset still sets the district in a direction of rightsizing to fit the revenue the district receives.

“In a few weeks, the board will have an idea of what our budget will look like and where, if any, the shortfall will be.”