$8M bite taken out of final schools budget

Trustee Mike McKay officially passed a final budget of $83,001,819 for the 2013/14 school year at the Jan. 15 school board meeting.

It’s in a different format from last year, but the total is about $8 million less because the district was given money to help pay down the Cowichan Place loan and that one-time funding is no longer available, according to district secretary-treasurer Bob Harper.

The district submitted, as required, a balanced budget to the education ministry late last spring but that now it has to be tweaked to reflect real life in the Cowichan Valley school district, Harper said.

"The original budget figures are estimated on data available in March of the previous year. But, come September, we get our actual enrolment from the ministry. They re-jig the numbers and tell us what we are actually going to get for the year based on enrolment," he said.

McKay agreed. "Everything that happens in May is hypothetical because until we know how many students are actually enrolled, it’s a best guess," he said.

Harper explained that he views the budget process as firing at "a continually moving target" because "we don’t know ahead of time what our Hydro bill is going to be for the end of the month, or for the year. It depends on whether the temperature goes up or down. And that’s without any of the surprises we get in terms of rate adjustments."

By the time the district reaches January, a lot of concrete data has been collected.

"We can refine the budget based on what we know of enrolment, what our staffing costs are, and what our estimates are for the rest of the year."

Then assistant secretary-treasurer Jason Sandquist talked about some specific changes.

"This is a consolidated budget. Previously we just showed the budget of the operating fund but that includes our capital and special purpose funds now. Our operating budget is actually much less than that.

"We made a significant investment to increase our international student revenue and the number of students that have arrived this year exceeded our estimate last May. Of course with that we also increased our expenditures because you can’t increase this revenue without hiring additional services overseas. There are costs for staffing, commissions and agents," he said.

Sandquist also pointed out that the district has not raised as much cash from bus fees as originally expected and some grant money has also been adjusted downward.

"On the expenditure side, CUPE and USE workers will now be receiving the increases negotiated in their contracts. That has to come out of this year’s budget so our expenditures will now reflect those, too," he said.

In staffing, the budget has had to be changed to reflect more absenteeism this year.

"Also in our utilities we were expecting to have a biomass boiler installed at Lake Cowichan a little earlier. It won’t be in until the end of March or April so that means there will be more expense for heating oil. We’ve also increased our budget for diesel fuel; what we’re actually spending exceeds what we had in the budget," he said.

Sandquist concluded by saying that this balanced budget includes "all the surplus that we had in the budget from last year as well."

Discussions will get underway soon about the budget for the next school year, 2014/15.

It was a decision to send in an unbalanced budget in 2012 that led to the removal of the previously elected board of school trustees in the Cowichan Valley district.

Just Posted

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read