Final Annual Budget Consultation meeting held, budget amount released

Prince Rupert's School District held the third and final Annual Budget Consultation meeting regarding the 2012/2013 budget.

On Monday evening, School District 52’s third and final Annual Budget Consultation meeting regarding the 2012/2013 school year budget was held at Charles Hays Secondary School, with information about funding being released, as well as several presentations being made in favour of potential projects that could become part of the budget.

Perhaps the most important piece of information shared with the public during the meeting was the release of the “preliminary” budget number, which at this time is $25,161,000. This number is based on an estimation of enrollment in September. The budget amount is slightly higher than the current school year’s $25,500,000.

“When we determine our actual enrollment in September, we submit that to the Ministry of Education and they make adjustments to the funding along the way.” Explained secretary-treasurer Cam McIntyre.

As well, the board will also have some surplus funds from the current school years budget, however exact numbers will not be known until the end of June, with knowledge of what the money will be spent on until the fall. The estimation at this time is $36, 576.

The board has been warning the public that they expected a reduction in funding protection of about $400,000 for the next school year, with the actual number of reduction being $383,000.

However, the district did receive two additional pieces of money, $43,640 that will be allocated to the district for the implementation of the new education plan, and $161,651 provided through the Learning Improvement Fund that the ministry is currently putting forward to legislature in the house. Members of the board will be told what exactly they can do with the two sums of money shortly.

“What I do expect is that if we look at all of the proposals that were submitted for the budget, some of the proposals may well tie in quite well with what we’re told we can use this money for.” Said McIntyre, adding that this information will be released before the passing of the budget.

For the 2012/2013 school year, the estimated amount of money that the district will receive will be $14,463,000, which is down slightly from 2011/2012’s $14,803,000 due to a decline in enrollment.

Although there is still a decline in the amount of students expected next school year, the decrease is not as drastic as last year. Because of this, funding for enrollment decline is down from $487,000 this school year to $222,000 in 2012/2013.

Also at last Monday’s meeting, several presentations were made by individuals who were trying to show the importance of a specific initiative being added to the 2012/2013 budget.

There were three presentations made by PRMS’s band teacher Kristy Tillman, CHSS band teacher Tristen Fox and Dawn Quest from the Prince Rupert and Region Music Society, in regards to funding different aspects of band. All three discussed the positive outcomes of funding for a grade five-band program, additional instruments that are too costly for students and cannot be purchased in town, and more funding for a band room located at CHSS.

“Offering band in grade five will give our students the opportunity to begin band a year sooner without having to make a difficult decision to choose between band and all other exploratory classes offered at the middle school.” Tillman pointed out.

Band teacher Tristen Fox addressed the lack of instruments with a creative comparison.    “Steak and potatoes is delicious, but where’s the butter? Where’s the garlic? You need all the different flavors, just like you need all the different instruments in order to make the fully rounded sound.” He said.

Linda Hikida, District Principal of Student Support Services, made a presentation later in the meeting to help sway the board into funding another full-time Learning Resource teacher in the district.

“It would serve our students very well and it would help us work as an even more collaborative team than we already are.” Said Hikida.

CHSS Principal Sandy Jones made a presentation to the board regarding expanding the Modern Education course, which is currently available to Grade 9 students. The course consists of project-based learning that will address the Grade 9 curriculum for humanities, art and science.

Additionally, there was one written submission regarding increased library assistant time, something that would undoubtedly benefit the district.

All together, 27-projects were suggested for the budget, some of which coming froman online survey, something new the district is doing.

The second survey can currently be found at www.sd52.bc.ca/survey that allows members of the public to have a say in which initiatives they think should be prioritized. 39 responses on the new survey, first one only got 6. The survey will remain open until Monday, March 26.

The board is expecting the budget to be completed and approved at the regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

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