Revelstoke school board approves 2014-15 budget

The Revelstoke Board of Education approved a $12 million budget for the 2014-15 school year at its meeting last week.

“It always starts with the classroom, in terms of making budget decisions,” said board chair Alan Chell. “One of the things we should be proud of in terms of our budget is when you look at our class sizes, they’re some of the best in the province.”

The budget process faced the usual challenges, with declining revenue brought on by declining enrolment, and rising costs in some areas beyond the school district’s control.

The school district is expecting 930 students next year — down about 18 from this school year. That represents a loss of $150,000 in revenue, said Bruce Tisdale, the secretary treasurer for the school district.

“On top of that, we have cost pressures like utility rates. BC Hydro over the 14 month period is scheduled to go up 14 per cent,” he said, adding that benefit plans, which are provincially regulated, also went up. “Those areas went up and are beyond the district’s ability to control, but our main focus was to protect the programs for students.”

Revenue next school year is expected to be $12,077,936, down from $12,248,307 this year. The numbers are expected to change over the course of the year as enrolment numbers solidify.

The budget is put together in a series of meetings with district staff, school trustees, and representatives from the Revelstoke Teachers Association, the support staff union, school principals and parents.

“The very first thing we do when we’re building next year’s budget is to adjust our staffing level based on our enrolment,” said superintendent Mike Hooker. “When our staffing levels go down, we only want them to go down relative to our actual enrolment.

“The challenge with that is the only place really to actually get substantial savings is in staffing because that’s where 90 per cent plus of our money is spent.”

Revelstoke did benefit from funding protection this year, which maintains a school districts budget at a certain level even when enrolment is declining. School districts are funded on a per-student basis and funding protection is designed to protect budgets against fixed or rising costs that exist regardless of student numbers.

Funding protection is scheduled to end starting in 2015-16, said Tisdale.



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