Once again it is tough financial times for school districts across the province as we prepare budgets for the 2015/16 school year. At SD46, we have held several consultations on our budget since last fall. Two events have occurred since then: the provincial budget announcement on February 17 and the Ministry of Education funding allocation for school districts, announced on March 12.
The big surprise for districts was that, although the province will fund the increases to teachers and support staff salaries, they have required BC’s 60 school districts to find $25 million dollars in “administrative savings” for 2015/16 and an additional $29 million from the budget in 2016/17 for a total of $54 million.
For School District No.46 (Sunshine Coast), rising costs and declining enrollment in recent years requires us to find about $500,000 each year to stay in the same place. The direction by the province for additional savings will bring that number closer to $700,000 for next year. There is no increase to district allotments in the Ministry’s March 12 announcement so this will be a very tough budget year.
Our administration is lean. We have THREE senior staff, 2.5 district principals, one HR manager, a facilities manager and 15 school sites led by 13 principals. This is a small team to guide 500 staff and 3,000 students on a budget of approximately $35 million. We’ve sent letters to the Ministers of Education and Finance stating our concerns.
In this year’s budget, we save some funds from our increasing focus on energy efficiency, from transportation and staff costs by implementing a two-week spring break. There will be other places we need to look hard to make our funds stretch.
In public consultations, we have learned about priorities of the community for education on the Sunshine Coast. Parents and community organizations have given us many ideas. With declining resources, we must find ways to meet our goals and best engage students and families in education. We know it can be done and we are confident our communities will help us to get there.