Early School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) discussions show the district could be about $1 million short next year.
“That’s nothing new, really,” board of education chair Melanie Joy said on Tuesday. “We’ve been through this enough times that we don’t expect anything else at this stage of the budget process.”
Joy said the March 27 board meeting in Nelson will invite input from various groups and individuals and the board will then work diligently to create a balanced budget by the April deadline. The 2012-2013 budget must include a repayment — spread over three years — to the Ministry of Education after an audit (parts of which the board disputes) found the district had been overpaid in the special needs area.
“Our superintendent (Jeff Jones) would like us to budget without including our rural grants, but right now that would put us more like $2 million short,” she said. “In the years that I have been on the board we have never had, say, an extra $500,000 that would allow us to do anything new and exciting. Budgeting always means looking at priorities each year and seeing what we can cut back on to meet those priorities. …
“Board members recently attended a presentation by the deputy minister of education and he showed the provincial budget and its challenges so that we could get a clearer picture of where education fits. With 40 per cent of the entire provincial budget now going to health care I don’t envy the government as it tries to provide services that people have come to expect. All the other ministries have to fight for what’s left after health care funding.”
Joy said her board is up to the challenge of balancing the budget and continuing to provide quality education to children in SD8.
“But it’s frustrating, too,” she admitted. “It would be nice to have enough money to come to the board table, just for once, and be able to say, ‘We are good for this year.’ ”