School district funding a ‘win’

School District 51 has a buoyed budget this year, with an increased allocation of about $50,000 over last year.

School District 51 has a buoyed budget this year, with an increased allocation of about $50,000 over last year.

Secretary-Treasurer Jeanette Hanlon delivered the annual budget of School District 51 (Boundary) at the regular meeting on April 12 held in Midway.

The district will be receiving $15, 147, 337 in funding for the 2016-17 school year. This is an increase of about $50,000, Hanlon said, which is the result of the district moving out of founding protection (a guaranteed minimum budget designed to protect against huge fluctuations in budget allocations). Hanlon said this amount is very slight in the overall scope of the budget, and will have no significant impact on the district.

Projected enrolment totals are the same across the district, with some fluctuations expected on a school-by-school basis. Projected enrolment for next year is 1,248 students, although that will not be finalized until Sept. 30, Hanlon said.

The treasurer’s report noted that the district is expected to make an additional $77,888 in savings this year. Combined with last year’s mandated savings of $91,880, total savings will now be $169, 768 to the Ministry of Education, annually.

Hanlon said the district is constantly looking for ways to save that come from outside the classroom. Last year’s savings came from making cuts to grounds services, she added.

“It has to come from outside the classroom, and I’ve got ideas but my ideas are running out,” she said. She could not provide detail as to what those savings might entail at this point.

The report also included information on ongoing school enhancement efforts. The district will be making two submissions for capital funding: one to replace the metal roof on the gym at Christina Lake Elementary School, and another to replace the boiler at Boundary Creek Secondary School. These projects will cost $250,000 and $200,000 respectively.

Addressing the cost of the roof for Christina Lake, Hanlon said the cost was due in large part to the structure of the roof. She added that there are other ways to repair the roof.

“So we’re going to put it through the routine capital grant and see what we get. If not, we have to consider is there a cheaper way of doing it?” Hanlon said. “We’re not closing that school and have no reason to, so I think we have no choice but to do it.”

The Annual Facilities Grant bylaw will be passed at the board meeting in May.

Other highlights from the budget include a slight decrease to the Learning Improvement Fund, which according to Hanlon is used to hire teachers to work in classrooms that require extra assistance. Hanlon said the decrease of $5, 276 is because overall enrolment has gone up across the province, decreasing the amount of funding available.

Hanlon said she considers the amount of funding received to be in line with what she was expecting. Despite some changes in how funding was calculated and increases as a result of the labour board settlement, she said funding this year was a win overall.