March 06, 2013 - 11:40 AM
By Charlotte Helston
Plummeting enrollment in Vernon schools means the district is entitled to less government funding.
School board chair Bill Turanski says the school board is anticipating a $2.2 million dollar shortfall, which will impact programming.
According to Turanski, there are expected to be 176 fewer students sitting in Vernon classrooms this fall. "We're funded on a per student basis," Turanski says. "This is pretty serious."
He says enrollment has been on the decline for several years. "It's this trend of young families migrating out of Vernon, there are no jobs here."
He says the trend is expected to persist into the foreseeable future, and that's something the school district has to brace for. He says restructuring of the school district will likely be needed to keep the budget under control. He says 176 fewer students is average for what the district has experienced in recent years.
He says the reduced government funding will make it hard to handle finances that don't fluctuate with lower enrollment.
"It makes it hard to deal with cost increases for medical service premiums, teachers pension plans—which alone are around $420,000—and utility costs are going up as well," Turanski says. "Our schools still need electricity, water. We're not closing any schools."
He says cuts to programming are an inevitable result. These are predicted to come at the secondary school level, where the decrease in enrollment is most significant.
"We can only offer a certain number of programs when we have a small student population," Turanski says. "There won't be as much variety of programs."
Turanski says there is no way to make up the extra cash. "We don't have any way of raising money, we have to rely wholly on the Ministry."
"This wasn't unexpected," Turanski says. But it was beyond the school district's control. "We have shortfalls every year."
To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)309-5230
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013