Monday September 01, 2014

Small budget shortfall still a concern, school trustee says

'It’s like they believe in Victoria that they are the only ones undergoing increased costs'

Annette Glover

Given that the school district operates with a $124.5-million budget, a $74,558 deficit doesn’t sound like a lot.

But Annette Glover, chairwoman of the Kamloops-Thompson school board’s finance committee, said the shortage is further proof the province is out of touch with the needs of school districts.

“It’s like they believe in Victoria that they are the only ones undergoing increased costs. The rest of the world is flat,” Glover said Friday. “That’s just so wrong.”

The deficit was revealed last month during an in-camera school board meeting. Secretary treasurer Kelvin Stretch told trustees the province had delivered holdback funds to the tune of $1.3 million.

When applied to the school budget — and taking into account per-pupil funding dropped from $115 per student to $96 — the amount left the district $74,558 short, Stretch said in his report.

School districts submit enrolment reports to the province every fall and receive an allotment of money based on the number of students. School district assistant superintendent Karl deBruijn said the province typically holds back money until later in the school year to make up for adjustments to enrolment.

DeBruijn said school districts count on the money to balance the budget. In this case, the amount was a little short.

“When you look at a budget the size of ours, it’s not very much,” he said, adding money can always be found in reserve to cover such a difference.

It’s the principle of the situation that bugs Glover. She said $74,558 is a teacher’s salary or the cost of snow removal this winter.

Glover wonders, given the number of funding announcements the province is making, if the government held on to some money for a future revelation.

Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association president Jason Karpuk said such a small shortfall isn’t a concern, but its further proof the province needs to change how it funds public education.

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