Friday April 18, 2014

Holdback funds lift school district out of red ink

'This is a little more than I expected'

Kelvin Stretch

The Kamloops-Thompson School District will receive $836,250 in holdback money from the province, as its share of $50 million being distributed throughout B.C.

District finance director Kelvin Stretch said Friday the money will pull the district out of the red; it looked as if $250,000 would have to be drawn from the operating reserve to balance the 2013/14 budget.

The monetary boost will also help cover a hydro increase of $265,000, and still leaves some funds left over to go toward programs, he said.

“It’s certainly better than where we were. This is a little more than I expected,” Stretch said.

“It’s significant. We have lots of cost pressures announced after the budgets were filed, so certainly districts were concerned. This will go along way to dealing with those pressures.”

Last year’s holdback bonus was higher — $96 per student full-time equivalent compared with $60 for Friday’s announcement — but the district also got more money up front in this budget, he said.

District administration will review the budget since it was established in April and look at what’s coming that wasn’t anticipated at that time. From there, adjustments will be made.

“There are some projects we may not have proceeded with because we didn’t have the money. Now we’ll look at priorities and spending,” he said.

Stretch noted the province is still experiencing declining school enrolment, while in Kamloops it’s getting close to stabilizing.

Some districts in the province have seen increases in enrolment, and they got additional holdback funds to deal with those additional students.

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