A projected enrolment decline will result in $660,000 less in revenue for School District 58 in 2012-13 than this school year, though it does not look that way at first glance.
Kevin Black, the school district’s secretary-treasurer, says the total revenue projected in the 2012-13 annual budget is $28.8 million, compared to $25.42 million.
However, the higher figure is due to a change in accounting practices, he says.
This year, the school district has included operating funds and fund accounts in its revenue total, in line with new accounting practices, according to Black. Previously, budgets only included operating funds as revenue.
Looking only at operating funds, revenue has dropped from $25.42 million to $24.76 million, says Black.
Fund accounts include annual grants for maintaining facilities, school fundraising, federal funding for French education, and money from the provincial Education Improvement Act, which ended the teachers’ strike last March.
Based on the projected drop in School District 58’s student population, operating revenue should have been even lower, says Black.
“It’s only declined that much because of funding protection.”
The student population, 2,409 as of School District 58’s updated budget last February, is expected to drop to 2,280 in the next school year. Those figures include school-age students, adults, and enrollees in summer school.
Despite the reduced revenue, 2012-13 should see a smaller deficit than the 2011-12 school year.
Black says a $567,000 was expected for this year, made up of a $342,000 operating loss and $225,000 for capital spending. By contrast, next year’s budget projects a total deficit of $338,000, made up of a $113,000 operating loss and again, $225,000 in capital spending.
“It’s a conservative budget and we’re continually looking for ways to save.”
The actual deficit for 2011-12 will wind up being less than the budget indicates, although the final figures will not be available until late July, he adds.
School District 58’s $5-million reserve will cover the budget shortfalls this year and next.
Some cost-saving measures for next year are closing down Coquihalla Middle School and amalgamating the Community Learning Centre into the South Central Interior Distance Education School.
Capital spending for 2012-13 includes purchases of maintenance equipment and digital devices for the classrooms, such as e-readers and iPads, says Black. A major expense, coming out of the facility maintenance grant, is new roofs for aging schools, he says.
“We’ve got roofing projects on the go…probably about $400,000 in work.”
The school board passed the budget at its regular meeting May 16. Black says the final step in the budget process is approval from the provincial Ministry of Education.
Asked when he expects the province to approve the budget, Black says, “I would say anytime. It’s more of a formality.”
Following approval, School District 58 will post the budget papers on its website, sd58.bc.ca, so the public can access them. Black says the budget should be online by the end of June.