Victoria’s funding increase to education keeps School District 27 on cutting edge

Victoria has announced global increases in funding for public education in B.C. but School District 27 will still be struggling to balance its annual budget, says secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller.

Victoria has announced global increases in funding for public education in B.C. but School District 27 will still be struggling to balance its annual budget, says secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller.

“Ministry funding is only one part of the budget process, remembering that the board used $400,000 from prior years carry forward to balance this year’s budget that will not necessarily be available for 2011/12,” Roller says.

“Over the next few weeks I will be working on an estimate to present to the board for the end of March and/or beginning of April. The decisions regarding GROW, French Immersion, Glendale, Wildwood and Lac La Hache remain important.”

In efforts to bring in a balanced budget the school board is proposing to move the alternate graduation program GROW out of its lease location on Second Avenue and into the annex on the Marie Sharpe Elementary School property.

To make room for GROW, the French Immersion program (now at Marie Sharpe) would be relocated to Glendale elementary, which, like Lac la Hache and Wildwood elementary schools, is facing serious declines in enrolment.

Rather than close Wildwood and Lac la Hache elementary schools completely, the board proposes to keep both schools open for kindergarten to Grade 3 primary students.

Wildwood students in grades 4 to 7 would bus to Cataline elementary in Williams Lake. Lac la Hache students in grades 4 to 7 would bus to 108 Mile elementary.

March 11 Victoria announced that schools in B.C. would collectively receive a new record high of about $4.7 billion in operating funding for 2011/12 which means more than $24 million invested in K-12 education every school day.

The $58-million increase will help complete the transition to full-day kindergarten, providing more flexibility and support to students and families throughout the province.

“In the coming school year, we’re increasing the basic allocation amount provided for every student by $44,” Minister of Education Margaret MacDiarmid said. “This gives districts more money up front, allowing them to plan budgets more effectively and address cost pressures they’ve identified.”

While the province’s global commitment to education may be increasing, School District 27’s share is going down, primarily due to falling enrolment numbers throughout the district.

Roller says School District 27 will receive $53.5 million for 2011/12, which is approximately $175,000 less than prior years.

“The reduction is due to reduced levels of students in our February and May recounts for Distributed Learning and Continuing Education programs and in the manner these students are funded,” Roller says. “They are not included in amounts that are under funding protection by the ministry.”

She says the district’s final budget for 2011/12 must be passed by the board and submitted to the Ministry of Education by June 30 of this year.

“The district has already begun to work on the budget and will be taking this information to the board in late March and early April,” Roller says.