Comox Valley School District One of Few Facing Balanced Budget – Comox Valley Record
The bad news is that School District 71 isn’t expecting a lot of excess money for the upcoming school year.
The good news, however, is that it does not expect to be in deficit, which puts it in the minority among public school districts in British Columbia.
“This is just a preliminary first draft,” Secretary-Treasurer Brenda Hooker told school administrators at the April 26 board meeting. “We plan to have a balanced budget, which is very good news.”
She provided an update on the status of the next budget for the 2022-23 school year. Of the 60 school districts, she said, Comox Valley was one of seven currently planning a balanced budget.
“We are in a good situation. We don’t have a lot of extra money, but we are able to cover our current expenses,” she said.
By law, districts are expected to present balanced budgets, so for many that will mean making cuts.
Most of the district’s revenue comes from the Department of Education based on enrollment, which is expected to increase in the Comox Valley in the coming year. It had been declining for many years, but started to increase year on year from 2015.
The increase in enrollment is expected to generate additional revenue of $3.6 million through the ministry’s operating grant. It also means higher costs.
“With additional students, we will need additional levels of staff,” Hooker said.
In a report to the board, she noted that the grant increase will be adjusted by revenue changes in other budget areas, which should ultimately result in an overall revenue increase of just under $3. .5 million dollars.
The district is also facing negotiated wage and salary increases, which must be funded. However, some staff increases are exempt, such as the salaries of directors and deputy directors. There are further cost pressures due to additional staffing positions and changes to employment standards regarding sick days for on-call teachers and casual employees. Added to this are pension and benefit premiums, utility costs, an improved learning environment for students, and information technology. With these additional costs added, the district is left with approximately $50,000 to allocate.
“You’ll notice the numbers change as we learn more information and work on our estimates,” CFO Candice Hilton added. “Some amounts may be slightly adjusted.”
The district begins the process at the start of the calendar year for the following school year and gathers public input before the board adopts a draft budget by the end of June. Once the operating grant is known during the actual school year, the district establishes its final budget.
School district 71