With the school year starting on Tuesday, Sep. 6, parents, teachers and students can rest assured that the school district’s finances are in good shape for the next year.
“We’re not going to be offering anything new, but we don’t expect to be taking anything away as well,” said Bruce Tisdale, secretary-treasurer of School District 19.
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on schools, this September appears closer to normal than what has been experienced for some time. From a district budget standpoint, the ease of the pandemic comes with its impacts.
Tisdale credits the work of years past for the position that the district finds itself in now.
“We built up a little bit of a surplus. And so, we can use that to help with this year, and we think at least three more years if the ministry doesn’t increase their funding,” said Tisdale.
Tisdale said the surplus isn’t built up by just saving money—it’s a bit more complicated than that. Instead, the district saves money by setting dollars aside for costs that could come to pass, but the district was fortunate enough not to spend. An example of this type of budgeting is the district’s utility charges.
“We budget utilities, and quite often there’ll be utilities that come in lower,” said Tisdale.
The surplus accrued through budgeting allows the district to cover off what was missing from the Ministry of Education’s operating grant.
“The biggest challenge this year was the fact that there were no increases for inflation, or cost of living index in terms of the ministry’s per pupil amount ran,” said Tisdale.
This means that the ministry’s contribution per student hasn’t changed despite the ever-growing cost to educate the student.
Funding for the district is student-based. That means that for every student that the district has, there’s a financial value that the ministry kicks into the district’s budget.
District 19 is made up of fewer than 1,100 students. Tisdale explained that with their current student population, they could comfortably take on more students without over-taxing the existing resources, which continues to help their bottom line.
“So, we’ve been growing in the last three or four years and as long as that continues with small growth, I think we’re in really good shape combined with the surplus we’re carrying forward,” said Tisdale.
While District 19 can still take on more students, that hasn’t stopped them from looking ahead at their resources.
At the time of its opening, Mount Begbie View School was set up to have the facilities to add portable classrooms to the school, if enrolment warrants it.
For now, the district is expecting a welcomed return to normal.