Press Release - School District 63 (Saanich)
The Board of Education of School District 63 Saanich has decided to call on government to overturn two key decisions that have affected the Board's ability to balance its budget. At a special committee of the whole budget meeting on April 27, 2016, the Board passed a motion to consider at its May 11 regular board meeting the submission of a balanced budget with a line item of $984,000 called "anticipated revenue from government."
As described by Board Chair Victoria Martin, "Our school district is no longer in enrolment decline so our financial picture should be improving. In fact, we have been able to create $700,000 of savings in administrative costs offsetting unfunded inflationary costs. That means we should be able to balance our budget and maintain levels of programs and services into 2016/17. But we are not balanced because of two actions by government, and we think that needs to be corrected."
According to Chair Martin, the government took the $700,000 of district administrative savings back into provincial coffers rather than allowing the school district to use those savings to maintain programs and services for students. Second, government downloaded $314,000 of annual costs for a new provincial network for internet access, up from a cost of $30,000 for the retired PLNet. That net loss of $984,000 is very close to the $870,000 that has been identified as the Board's 2016/17 funding shortfall. Having reached a point where all prior-year surpluses have been exhausted, the Board has made clear that beyond a small accumulated surplus it hopes to maintain as contingency it has no money left in the bank to cover this missing million dollars. And having cut as far away from the classroom as possible for years, including closing six schools, the Board now has to reduce teachers, support staff, and school administration time, all direct service providers to children.
Martin said that, "In a year when the budget could be balanced at a level that maintains current service levels, the school district is down by almost $1 million and cutting services. The Board had the ability to balance its budget, but we lost our ability to do that when the province took away $700,000 then downloaded a further $284,000 pressure for a new provincial network. We are calling on government to return those funds to the children of our school district and will be seeking a meeting with the Minister of Education to make the case in person."
April 28, 2016