School District 72 staff have faced a difficult task as they began work on a draft budget for the 2022/2023 school year.
An operating deficit of $2.1 million had to be balanced.
On Tuesday, May 17, SD 72 Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick presented a draft of the school board’s new budget at a special meeting.
Patrick went through a line-by-line budget spreadsheet for council members, a video of which can be found on the district’s YouTube page.
Literacy programs and school supplies have been hardest hit.
Before explaining the proposed reductions, Patrick spent some time recapping why the deficit is in place.
“We went over budget by $3.1 million,” he said. “Half was inflation, and the other half was COVID-related costs.”
In previous years, the district was able to draw part of the operating deficit from surplus funds, an action encouraged by the Department of Education.
However, after the current year, the surplus of SD72 has been significantly reduced.
“Our emergency contingency fund is nearly depleted,” Patrick said. “And we don’t have the surplus in place to cover unforeseen expenses.
Since the district cannot use the surplus to balance the budget, it must be more conservative in its cost estimates, as the council is legally bound by the province to balance the budget.
Patrick noted that staff are doing their best to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.
It was suggested that the equivalent of almost three literacy roles be cut and $100,000 in school supplies cut.
A number of coordinator positions will no longer be offered under the proposal, and some librarian hours will also be reduced.
The budget for the district education center would also be cut under the proposal.
Some subsidies are used to balance certain costs.
A childcare grant of $150,000 will be used to cover the salary of an operations manager, and a transportation budget of $270,000 will also be applied to the sheet.
Public comments can be sent to Natalie Crawshaw at the Secretary-Treasurer’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:00 p.m. Thursday, May 26.
The board will consider the comments and possibly approve the budget at the public board meeting on May 31.
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