COVID-19 generates cost reduction for Central Okanagan School District

Net financial outcome of COVID-related lost revenue and additional costs against savings is about $1.38 million

The Central Okanagan School District will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with a budget savings of about $1.38 million.

The lost revenue created by the pandemic-related school closures was $768,039, led by school bus fee refunds ($234,523) and international student losses ($400,000).

Other COVID-19 related costs amounted to $492,540.

The period from April to June, however, also produced estimated savings of $2,640,418 related to budgeted cost reductions outside of wages of benefits as the majority of school employees continued to work during the pandemic school closure.

The costs are part of the agenda items being presented to the school district finance and audit committee meeting on Wednesday, June 17, looking to endorse the school district budget for 2020-21 set at $284,166,432.

Pending any committee recommended changes, the budget will face approval from the trustees at the school board meeting June 24 and be submitted to the ministry of education by the June 30 deadline.

Beyond COVID-related costs, the proposed budget reflects other impacts, starting with a projected enrolment of 22,943 full-time equivalent students and 300 international students, a decrease of about 100 from 2019-20 due to the implications of the pandemic globally.

A student enrolment increase plus a per pupil increase from the prior year will cause an increase in the school district’s operating grant of $13,925,000 for the coming year.

The bus transportation fee increase was also set at $300 for each bus rider for the next school year, up from $225 in 2019-20 but down from higher estimates called for at the committee level and rejected by the school board.

READ MORE: School district budget increased

READ MORE: Fewer students means less funding

The international student program took a financial hit due to the pandemic, as of the 380 students scheduled to attend after spring break, 210 students chose to stay and 170 opted to journey back home.

A school district staff report says since its inception 14 years ago, the international education program has generated $27,500,000 of net income, money used to help subsidize other school programs at the elementary, middle and secondary school levels.

The program has 573 students registered to attend for the 2020-21 school term, beyond the budgeted target of 400, representing 33 different countries.

The report says program staff have done a great of job developing relationships with consultant student recruiters, and built an excellent reputation for the program from the perspective of those recruiters and foreign students.

“There have been some additional costs and cancellations because of local restrictions and the global situation; however, consultants from around the world have acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the district and the quality of care that continues to be delivered,” stated the staff rep0rt.

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