(L-r) Upper North Thompson school trustee Shelley Sim, and Lower North Thompson school trustee Rhonda Kershaw, pictured at a school board meeting held at Clearwater Secondary School on May 28, 2018. Kershaw was elected c Board of Education Chair on July 27, 2020, and Sim currently serves as chair of the Finance and Planning Committee. (S/J file photo)

(L-r) Upper North Thompson school trustee Shelley Sim, and Lower North Thompson school trustee Rhonda Kershaw, pictured at a school board meeting held at Clearwater Secondary School on May 28, 2018. Kershaw was elected c Board of Education Chair on July 27, 2020, and Sim currently serves as chair of the Finance and Planning Committee. (S/J file photo)

School District 73 balances budget using reserves

The Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education voted to draw from reserves to balance the nearly $200 million 2021-2022 annual budget.

“The Board approved a budget that looks beyond this year and prepares the District for the future, to make sure schools are inclusive for all children and youth, and to provide more support for principals, teachers, and support staff,” said Board Chair Rhonda Kershaw.

With the uncertainties of the pandemic, a modest projected increase in next years’ student numbers and the use of reserves, the Board of Education unanimously voted to pass the 2021-2022 annual budget at its regular meeting on Monday, April 26, 2021.

“I am pleased to have the carryover of the additional custodians from this year into the future. We know there is still an extensive wish list from SD73 and this is being kept in the top drawer, and as money permits, we want to act on that,” said Trustee Shelley Sim, Chair of the Board of Education Finance and Planning Committee. “Yes, it’s a conservative budget, but certainly one that has students, staff, and community at top of mind.”

“In my previous experience as the superintendent, I saw 15 years of enrolment decline. We went from 18,000 to 13,800 students, and they were very challenging years’ budget-wise,” said Terry Sullivan, Superintendent. “In this budget, we will see projected increased enrolment and a chance to provide some flexibility to the new leadership. New leadership in the superintendency and in the secretary-treasurer role that will take us into the future starting in the next school year.”

“By using the COVID-19 Reserve, the International Student Program reserve, and a small portion of the School District No 73 Business Company management reserve, along with an extended health and dental premium holiday, the budget balances,” said Trina Cassidy, Director of Finance. The benefit premium holiday is possible as the premiums paid for extended health and dental have exceeded the cost of the actual benefits, Cassidy noted.

While the district’s estimate for modest growth of 113.375 students in September of 2021 over last year’s enrolment will add to the FTE funding, the Distributed Learning Program has been reset to pre-COVID-19 levels.

In closing, retiring Secretary-Treasurer Kelvin Stretch thanked the Board, Superintendent Sullivan, and Director Cassidy, as he remarked on the final budget, he will prepare for School District No. 73. “It takes a lot of coordination and cooperation to prepare a balanced budget for a system with 9 trustees, 2,100 staff, 15,000 plus students, 46 schools, 5 district facilities, and 70 bus routes, which is a partial list of some of the competing interests in this year’s $197+ million budget.

“Making good decisions takes respectful conversations and the ability to prioritize competing interests, but at the end of the day, staff have a budget that we’ve developed as a District that we can all support to the best of our ability.”

Key Budget Initiatives:

• Labour Settlement increases included

• Retain day-shift custodians added as a result of COVID-19

• School Administration – vice-principals – elementary and secondary

• Sun Peaks School teaching staff re: grade 8-9 programs

• International Student Program student increase

• Specialized Teachers re: Chris Rose Therapy Centre and severe behaviour

Key Numbers:

The total budget (including special purpose and capital funds) for the year is expected to be $197,903,177 which is a $7 million dollar change from the 2021 Amended Annual Budget passed in February, reflecting the absence of the one-time COVID-19 funding announced from the Federal and Provincial Governments.

Total Revenue for the 2021-2022 school year from all sources is estimated at $192,548,952.

The number of principals, teachers, support staff, and management staff employed by the District will rise by 22.8571 FTE employees at a cost of $1,638,361.

The operating fund deficit of $1,245,711 was addressed by using reserves and an extended health and dental premium holiday.

Source: SD73

___________________

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