Schools in the Boundary area will not have to make any major cuts to programs or staff next year after receiving a balanced budget from Jeanette Hanlon, secretary-treasurer for School District 51(SD51).
At the May 13 regular meeting of the board of education, the board approved the budget for the 2014-15 school year.
The budget does have a deficit of $441,000 but that money will come out of the surplus funding from the previous year, said Hanlon.
“We’ve been very conservative over the last number of years knowing our funding is not keeping pace with the pressures we face,” said Teresa Rezansoff, chair of the board. “We’ve been as conservative as we can so that as those pressures mount we have the funds to meet our obligations. So we’re using funds we’ve been saving so we don’t have to make cuts in the classroom; we’re keeping our staffing levels pretty much the same; our class sizes are very small; and we’re providing opportunities for our kids. So that’s positive.”
Hanlon’s report to the board stated that staying within the legislation for class size, the number of divisions at the elementary schools will remain the same, even though enrolment is down.
The board has added blocks at GFSS to facilitate a new Grade 8 rotation with a pairing of competencies that will allow students to have more consistent teaching staff throughout the year.
Hanlon said she thinks the board will be okay next year with the budget but “things change because there are cost pressures we won’t know about.
“We feel like we’ve invested in this next year,” she said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to build and take care of some of the challenges and opportunities we see in the next few years. We don’t want to be making any huge cuts in any one particular year.”
Hanlon said the board is hoping for more money from the government “because our surplus isn’t going to last forever.”
“There aren’t many more cuts we can do because there are all these cost pressures,” she said. “We want to try to make sure we’re able to meet the needs of the kids today.”
Hanlon reported that the board is anticipating that more elementary schools will be facing the challenges of three grade-blended classrooms.
“We have budgeted support for teachers to visit three grade blends within our district and in surrounding districts to prepare for these upcoming challenges,” she said.
Other additions to the budget include monies for training for the implementation of the new student database MyEducationBC.
The total enrolment for SD51 on March 31, 2014 was 1,276. That number dropped to 1,274 on April 30. (Enrollment was 1,284 in Sept. 30, 2013. There were 1,484 students in Sept. 1, 2009.)
Enrolment for individual schools are: (On April 30 and March 31, 2014; Sept. 30, 2013; and Sept. 1, 2009)
GFSS – 340, 340, 342, 468
Perley – 255, 254, 264, 268
Hutton – 246, 245, 241, 241
Christina Lake – 78, 77, 85, 92
Walker Centre – 22, 25, 22, 41
Boundary Central – 124, 123, 123, 162
Big White Community School – 24, 31, 27, 15
West Boundary Elementary – 111, 109, 107, 104
Midway Elementary – 32, 30, 32, 35
Greenwood Elementary – 33, 32, 31, 47
Beaverdell Elementary – 9, 10, 10, 11
There are projected to be 1,207 students in SD51 in Sept. 30, 2015; 1,187 in 2016; 1,171 in 2017; and 1,150 in 2018.