Surplus saves school budget

Dipping into reserves has allowed the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District to escape major cuts.

Trustees have adopted the 2011/12 budget but it could only be balanced by using $554,0422 in surplus funds.

“When you don’t have enough surplus, you start cutting,” said Sterling Olson, secretary-treasurer.

“The board doesn’t want to reduce services to kids if you have a surplus.”

The surplus was largely a result of decisions the board made last year, including closing Malakwa school.

What also helped in planning this year’s $64.2 million budget is guaranteed funding from the Ministry of Education despite declining enrolment.

This is the first time in about 12 years the district hasn’t had to reduce services during the budget process.

“It’s really quite an experience not to have to do such deep cutting,” said Gerry Nevdoff, Falkland trustee.

“It’s nice. I wish it would happen more often.”

However, financial challenges may face the district again.

“While this year is good, there are a number of concerns going into the future because we don’t know if the government will continue with revenue protection,” said Olson.

He also points out that by using $554,422 in reserves for 2011/12, that reduces the district’s ability to absorb potential shortfalls in subsequent years.

It’s anticipated enrolment in North Okanagan-Shuswap schools next year will decrease by 101 students.

Costs for providing programs and services at the existing standards and service levels are expected to decrease by about $169,460 based on the possible enrolment figures.

“As students decline, we reduce the number of teachers in relation to that,” said Olson.