Okanagan Skaha school district contends with budget shortfall

Secretary-treasurer optimistic that the current figure of $1.2 million can be pared down

The bad news is that the Okanagan Skaha School District is facing a possible budget shortfall of nearly $1.2 million.

The good news is that secretary-treasurer Ron Shongrunden said this is far from a final figure, and he hopes to reduce that much further.

“We anticipate we can do some things that will make that much lower,” said Shongrunden.

In fact, he continued, when he made his initial presentation to the board of education, the initial forecast was in the $800,000 range. “This is a fluid document. It will change over the next month.”

Okanagan Skaha kicked off the public portion of its budget planning process for 2012-13 Wednesday evening at Penticton Secondary with the first of a series of presentations on the proposed budget. Over the next month, they will be meeting with a variety of stakeholder groups, from parent advisory committees to the teachers’ union and CUPE, looking for input on budget priorities and ideas on how to reduce that shortfall.

And, as they have for the last two years, they will also be gathering input through a web-based survey tool, accessible through their website at sd67.bc.ca.

Taking a long-term, multi-year approach is key to smoothing out the ups and downs of how the Ministry of Education does funding, said Shongrunden. But another big key to keeping budget shortfalls low in Okanagan Skaha has been advocacy by the district’s board of education.

“If you are looking at it long term, it’s millions of dollars that we don’t have to cut because of that advocacy,” said Shongrunden.

The list of successful appeals by the district include continued funding protection against dropping enrolments, not only for Okanagan Skaha but the entire province. They’ve also been advocating for help with high utility costs due to higher than average rates in Penticton and Summerland.

“We were successful at the local level. Summerland has lowered their rates and Penticton has chosen to keep their commercial rates at 2011 levels. We have yet to secure additional funding from the province, but we will continue our efforts,” said board of education chair Ginny Manning. “And just recently, a letter was sent requesting that any strike savings be left in the district to help mitigate a number of costs that were incurred as a result of the six-month job action as well as a number of issues that we have.”

That letter also produced positive results, with the province announcing earlier this week that $7 million out of the $37 million saved will stay in local school districts.

Okanagan Skaha’s share of that will be about $70,000, according to school superintendent Wendy Hyer. That will go to helping reduce this year’s budget deficit.

“It is a bit too early to tell and we expect some things to happen. I am optimistic the number won’t be near the high, $1.2 million end. I am optimistic that we’ll be able to work at something a little bit lower,” said Hyer.

Working through the budget is a tough job, said Manning, especially since the way the ministry allocates funding changes from year to year.

“It’s always a bit depressing. However, as Ron said, we are right at the beginning of all this. We don’t know all the rules regarding the funding yet. We also have a lot of different numbers to work through,” said Manning. “We are hoping to work it out in the end to follow our goals and to keep any changes we make away from the classroom as best we can.”

 

Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Cheetahs can’t roar

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Highway 3, east of Osoyoos was closed all Monday due to a liquid tar spilled all over the road.
Highway 3, east of Osoyoos, is now open to single lane traffic

The highway was closed all Monday due to liquid tar spilled all over the road

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Pixabay.com photo)
No COVID-19 baby boom in Summerland

Pandemic has not resulted in surge in births in 2020 and 2021

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A West Kelowna man was seriously injured in a single-vehicle collision early on Tuesday morning. (Black Press file photo)
Single vehicle collision seriously injures West Kelowna man

The man was driving a pickup truck that went off the road and caught on fire

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Kelowna artist Bobby Vandenhoorn recently completed mural of late Canadian rock icon and activist Gord Downie now adorns Brenda Dalzell’s Sicamous business, the Bruhn Crossing Urban Market. (Contributed)
Canadian rock legend, activist Gord Downie inspires Sicamous mural

Business owner hopes artwork will help foster ongoing conversations around reconciliation

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Most Read