School District 71 can expect a little more money for the upcoming school year.
At the board of education’s committee of the whole meeting on May 12, secretary-treasurer Nicole Bittante presented trustees with an update of some of the main changes for the next budget.
The district’s balance sheet shows $2,479,945 more in the preliminary budget for 2020/21 compared with the final budget for the current school year.
“I’m happy to report our district is able to achieve a balanced budget for the year without any reductions to our programs or services,” Bittante told board members.
Some of this increase is to due to funding from other grants that will now added to the main operating grant for districts. Specifically, these are funds from the equity of opportunity grant, carbon tax grant and employer health tax grant, along with funding for the labour settlement with CUPE.
“These grants have now been rolled into the operating grant,” Bittante said.
However, a little over $1 million of the additional money is based on increased enrolment expected in the Comox Valley district.
Bittante outlined some other changes in the budget. These include reductions in investment income of about $100,000 as well as $1.4 million less from the international student program, which is anticipated from about 60 international students not attending district schools in September. Enrolment continues to rise in Comox Valley school district
A draft of the budget showed an additional $1.6 million for the labour settlement for teachers this spring, though Bittante said this will need to be updated to $2.2 million.
The budget was put together with feedback from partner groups and the public, including the district parent advisory council and CUPE. There were also 37 submissions to a survey made online during discussions as part of the regular process to draft the document each spring.
One of the big wrinkles, of course, has been the onset of COVID-19. Bittante said they had adjusted the document to reflect changes expected for the coming school year, at least based on what is known at present.
“We’d adapted for what we do know,” she said, pointing to the reduced revenue from the international student program as an example.
As another case, superintendent Tom Demeo told the board one of the changes needed, based on input from CUPE, is to add daytime custodian service at the elementary level. He said the operations department is working on shift changes for staff to take this into account.
Bittante added that the Ministry of Education wants districts to keep track of additional costs related to COVID, such as additional custodial time, cleaning expenses or daycare time.
The board will be presented with the preliminary budget for adoption at the May 26 meeting. It has to be passed on or before June 30.
School districts put together a preliminary budget each spring for the coming school year and then pass a final amended budget after operating grants are known, based on enrolment as of the end of September.