Spending has direct impact on children

Eye On Education column by School District 51 Secretary-Treasurer Jeanette Hanlon.

Each year School District 51 spends approximately $16 million delivering a quality education system to over 1,200 students throughout our Boundary communities.

This spending has a direct impact on your children and their educational experience from preschool (through our StrongStart centres) to Grade 12 graduation.

Our student achievement results show performances significantly above provincial results on almost every measure. The district wants to continue to sustain and improve these results for our students and make our schools places where students are able to take what they learn and apply it to real life experiences.

Our finances need to align with the district’s goals and objectives in order to be effective and provide our students a successful experience.

We have renamed our budget “A Financial Framework for Supporting Student Success.” Our framework is developed through a consultative process with our school communities. We value the input received from all of our stakeholders, which enables us to ensure that our goals and objectives represent the needs of all our students and that we are financially supporting those objectives.

The district’s funding is based on student enrolment. We have been a district that has been declining in enrolment, but our enrolment has leveled out these last few years and we hope to not have any drastic declines in the future.

The province has built factors into their funding formula to protect districts with declines; therefore, for the last 10 years we have been guaranteed 98.5 per cent of our previous year’s funding.

This guaranteed funding, the reallocating of resources within the funding provided, as well as spending smarter and more efficiently has allowed us to support our students’ learning needs. Our four-day week annually puts approximately $200,000 back into our classrooms. We continue to monitor the smaller expenses as well (as every dollar counts), no different than your household budget.

Next school year we will receive from the Ministry of Education $15,147,337 along with $447,259 in special purpose funds.    Our revenues from other sources total around $350,000. We also receive monies to maintain our buildings of approximately $525,000.

Our expenses next year add up to approximately $15,800,000, of which 86 per cent is salaries and benefits and the remaining 14 per cent is services and supplies.

Based on our funding and expenses we are currently expecting an operating shortfall of approximately $350,000, although we are still reviewing the input from stakeholders.  This shortfall can be funded through our surplus. Over the long-term, funding our shortfall through surplus is not sustainable as surplus should be used for one-time expenditures.

Our district is committed to ensuring that we are successfully supporting student learning and that our students have the skills they need when they leave us.

An important piece for determining an effective distribution of funds is feedback from parents, staff, students, and our communities. This results in a collaborative plan, supportive staff and a financial plan to support it.