School district forecasts ongoing budget cuts

Board will have to cut deeper into school district budget.

The financial picture for School District #83 prompted school board chair Bobbi Johnson wear black – as though she were in mourning – to the school board meeting.

“I thought a few years ago we had cut everything we could cut. Now we are going places trustees do not want to go,” she said.

Sterling Olson, secretary-treasurer, told the board at Tuesday’s meeting the school district is facing an operating deficit of $1.8 million from last year.

This includes the projected enrolment decline of 137 students, as well as the government announcement of a reduction in funding for school district administrative costs. For School District #83 that translates into a reduction of $685,000 over the next two years.

As well, no additional funding is coming from the government to cover increases in MSP payments or BC Hydro rate increases.

“It is a very challenging picture and it looks like we have a number of years of financial challenges ahead of us, “ said Olson, who noted enrolment is projected to continue to decline by more than 60 students each year for the next two years. This will mean continued cutbacks to the budget unless there are changes to government policy to inject more funds into the educational system.

Johnson says the upcoming budget discussions will consider every line item in the budget, “no matter how small.”

She noted last year the budget cuts impacted services like family life teaching and library services – things which directly impacted student learning.

“This year, the cuts are going to have to go even deeper,” she said.

The budget process will continue with the plan coming to the table for approval on May 12, with final adoption set for June 9.