Updated: No schools to be closed in balancing of 2015/16 SD27 budget

School District 27 announced there will be no school closures to assist in the balancing of the 2015/16 budget.

  • Feb. 25, 2015 7:00 p.m.

School District 27 announced there will be no school closures to assist in the balancing of the 2015/16 budget.

The move, which was passed unanimously at the board’s Feb 24 meeting, means, however, the board will have to look at other options to save an estimated $800,000 or 1.5 per cent, from SD27’s 2015/2016 budget.

Since 2013/2014, the board has had to systematically reduce its budget by $800,000 due to the loss of funding protection provided by the Ministry of Education.

The ministry provides funding protection to districts such as SD27 that are facing significant declines in enrolment.

The impact on SD27 has meant the ministry has funded the district above what the enrolment would generate for the 2014/15 school year by $3.3 million.

It is anticipated that the board will need to continue to have to reduce its budget by about $800,000 per year for the next four or more years (depending on enrolment stabilization) to eliminate the funding protection.

Board chair Tanya Guenther said it’s been a challenging experience to say the least.

“Over the past two years the board has met this challenge by reducing departmental budgets, closing schools and programs and reducing staff,” Guenther said.

“The board will continue to focus its efforts on budget reductions that have little or no impact on students.”

The board is in the process of preparing its 2015/16 budget and is seeking input from stakeholder groups and the public.

To have your say, log onto the district’s website at www.sd27.bc.ca and follow the link to complete the survey. The survey will close at 4 p.m. on March 6.

At its Feb. 24 meeting, the board also began to address the controversial topic of community use of schools.

The board, in continuing its review of the policy, has agreed to a process to move forward with addressing issues surrounding school user fees. Last year, the board was criticized for applying user fees at area schools.

The decision forced some local non-profit community groups such as the Cubs and Scouts, and the wrestling club to look for other venues to meet, and even forced some groups to disband due to the cost.

Tuesday the school board also introduced a new process for determining how the use of school facilities will go forward.

The process will involve public input as well as staff and board reviews.  The full process to be used will be posted to the district’s website www.sd27.bc.ca.