July 04, 2016 - 6:30 PM
PRICE INCREASE FOR YELLOW BUS PASSES TO STAND
CENTRAL OKANAGAN - School trustees have agreed what to "uncut" from the $3.2 million budget shortfall predicted earlier this spring for the 2016-2017 school year.
The district’s finance committee had already signed off on the $3.2 million worth of budget cuts and revenue increases to the district’s $225 million budget when the Ministry of Education announced in early June it would forgive almost $1 million of the “administrative efficiencies" it had earlier asked for.
“The biggest thing is we’re putting $400,000 back into the schools,” secretary treasurer Larry Paul says, of a planned $660,000 cut to school-based discretionary budgets.
The remainder was put back roughly equally into planned cuts to other areas, including the district’s technology budget and custodial staffing levels, Paul adds.
“It’s not a perfect split but we tried to put it back into where it came from in about the same percentage,” he says.
An exception was to the cost of a pass to the yellow bus system, which will still rise to $250 from $200 this year, a 25 per cent increase following a 100 per cent increase last year when the pass price rose to $200 from $100.
Paul said the late announcement from the education ministry meant the bus price increase could not be deferred.
“That ship had already sailed in terms of having systems in place,” Paul says. “It would have been too hard to back that up and refund everyone so the board decided to leave it in place.”
Even at $250, Paul says the school district subsidizes each bus rider by almost $500 and it will remain an attractive budget cut target should the ministry continue to demand budget cuts every year.
Paul says the district’s registration will grow by 300 students this year and is projected to do the same next year. Current enrolment is approximately 22,000 students.
“We had expected this year to be flat but then we got an unexpected oilpatch boom,” he says. “In general, we are projecting a slow climb upward for the next few years, although nothing dramatic.”
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