Ruling puts millions back into coffers of district
No cuts to staffing, services or supplies will be required for the upcoming year
After years of budget shortfalls, the Central Okanagan school district won’t have to make cuts for the upcoming school year. “We won’t have cuts in services like we’ve had in the past,” said Larry Paul, secretary-treasurer with the district.
The district is receiving slightly more than $10 million from the provincial government as part of November’s Supreme Court of Canada ruling that restored class size and composition to the 2002 levels.
The district is also expecting an increased enrolment of about 300 students, for which it will receive additional per-pupil funding.
“Given that we can maintain all of our services with the increased funding we’re getting, there will be no reductions in staffing, services or supplies,” said Paul.
Last year, the district had to cover a shortfall of $3.2 million to balance its budget. The year before that, there was a $2.7 million shortfall.
“A year that we can maintain or increase services is a good year,” said Paul. “They don’t come very often, and they are welcome when they do.”
The district will be hiring more than 100 teachers for the upcoming school year as part of the reinstated collective agreement terms, and the challenge will be finding space for them, said Paul.
“We’re looking at moving portables, buying portables, finding temporary space.”
The district is also looking into converting existing space such as computer labs into classrooms.
Costs associated with creating space for new classrooms will be
determined then submitted to the government on April 28.
“We have to show them what our space challenges are, our plan to address those space challenges, and then give them a costing of that and then we’ll open up discussion with them on getting funds to support that,” said Paul.
The district’s operating budget for the upcoming school year so far is $252 million, compared to last year’s operating budget of $234 million.
“If we have a year of no cuts and additional resources going into the classrooms, that’s a great year,” said Paul.
“The biggest thing is the fact that we will have a significant number of more teachers supporting kids next year.” Final adjustments to the budget can be made up until June 21.