Bonnie Roller Routley, secretary-treasurer for the Okanagan Skaha School District, goes over some of the figures in their final 2016-17 budget document. Steve Kidd/Western News

Budget trending positive for school district

The Okanagan Skaha School District finalized its 2016-17 budget with a small surplus

There were a lot of smiles on the faces of Okanagan Skaha School District trustees at a special meeting Monday night.

Increased enrollment and unplanned-for disbursements from the Ministry of Education meant the school district was not only able to balance its 2016-17 budget, but actually finalize the $65 million document with a small, $790 surplus.

Among other revenue increases the province kicked in $739,000 from the rural education fund to preserve Trout Creek and West Bench Elementary School, $530,000 to hire more teaching staff in the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Canada decision, and supplements to transportation and new curriculum.

“It has been a huge year of changes,” said secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley, explaining that while the revenue side of the budget has increased, so have the expenses. “More students mean more teachers.”

Roller Routley said an increase of about 25 full-time equivalent students pushed the district out of funding protection for the first time in 15 years.

“That’s good news. It has been a monkey on our back for a long time,” said board chair Linda van Alphen. Over the course of years of shrinking enrollment, funding protection helped provide a stable budget, but in recent years, the ministry changed its approach.

“Three years ago, the ministry started indicating we had to pay it back, 1.5 per cent at a time,” said Roller Routley. “It was coming to be $750,000 a year, over and above everything else you had to find.”

Roller Routley said the changes should be enough to give the school district some stability in next year’s budget process.

“Even if our enrollment flatlines and comes in at the same number, we know we are not going back into funding protection,” said Roller Routley. “I think that is all good news for us.”

Van Alphen was cautious about the future, pointing out that while the province had removed the requirement to find $266,000 in administrative savings, they had required the district to pay a similar amount into the Next Generation Network enhancement.

“A lot of what happens in the funding world seems to be one hand giveth and the other taketh away,” said van Alphen.

Planning begins on the budget for the 2017-18 school year right away, with funding estimates expected from the province in mid-March. There will be a series of meetings with staff and stakeholder groups to plan the budget and collect feedback through April, with a final open meeting to present the budget in early May.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After a decade, the impact of Value Village in Penticton

No local non-profit said they had received support, while some had suffered after Value Village opened

Penticton Art Gallery’s latest three exhibits open to the public

Scott Price, Corrine Thiessen, the Art of Theytus Books, and the En’owkin Centre’s NAPAT artists are here until March 15.

Princeton RCMP make quick arrest in armed robbery after ‘brief struggle’

Princeton RCMP have arrested a suspect in connection with an armed robbery… Continue reading

Events in Osoyoos are facing difficulties that have already lead to one cancellation this year

The town and event organizers will be working together to solve the issues.

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Classic tale seeks North Okanagan ballet dancers

Anne of Green Gables, by Ballet Jorgen, in Vernon

North Okanagan youth ready to make some NOYSE

Showcase of excellence features talents of young local performance

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

Rockslide obstructing traffic on rural Shuswap road

Large boulders rolled onto Sunnybrae Canoe-Point Road in the South Shuswap.

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Most Read