For the first time in recent memory, the Central Okanagan School District will not be making any budget cuts this year.
“The difference this year is the government increased the per-pupil grant,” said district secretary-treasurer Larry Paul. This means there has been an increase in how much the district receives per student.
“That’s always been our complaint in the past is that they haven’t funded the inflationary cost,” he said.
The district will see an increased enrolment of about 300 students.
“Part of that component with the student grant (is to cover) overhead costs, administrative and utilities and we aren’t going to see those costs directly related to those kids because at this point we’re not opening another school next year. So we’re not adding administrators,” said Paul, adding the district will take the unused funds and put it towards other costs.
The school district is also receiving just over $10 million as part of the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in November, which restored the 2002 contract language of set classroom sizes.
“For me, a year where we don’t have to go through the stress of reductions, combined with the increase of resources for kids is a positive,” said Paul.
In the past, funding cuts had been made to the technology budget, transportation, leadership programs and how much funding each school receives.
According to a report which will be presented at Wednesday’s board meeting, to meet the Classroom Enhancement Fund requirements, the district estimates there will be 131 new teaching positions from September 2016 to September 2017.
Now, the district is facing the challenge of providing the space for the new teachers and classrooms, using portables, revamping unused classrooms while discussing other options.
“We have a significant shortage in classroom spaces so we’re working on that right now,” said Paul.
The district’s projected budget for the 2017/2018 school year is $252 million.
The preliminary budget will be presented at the end of June.