North Okanagan-Shuswap school trustees urged to submit 'needs-based' budget for increased government funding - InfoNews

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North Okanagan-Shuswap school trustees urged to submit 'needs-based' budget for increased government funding

School District 83 Board of Education: Back row- Barry Chafe, Chris Coers, Michel Saab, Bobbi Johnson, Bob Fowler. Front - Larissa Lutjen, Kelly Rowe, Jenn Wilchuk and Debbie Evans.
Image Credit: School District 83
May 13, 2016 - 6:30 PM

SALMON ARM - The North Okanagan-Shuswap school board has been asked to take a stand for education.

At a board meeting earlier this week, a member of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Education Society asked School District 83 trustees if they would consider submitting a "needs-based budget" to the province alongside its balanced budget for 2016/2017.

A needs-based budget typically shows the actual costs associated with meeting the educational needs of students. Some school districts have been fired for submitting solely needs-based budgets, otherwise known as deficit budgets, while others have submitted them with their regular budgets to highlight the need for increased funding.

At the meeting, board chair Bobbi Johnson said trustees take an oath, part of which involves the commitment of submitting a balanced budget.

“We will write letters that say we’re not happy with funding but we won’t pass a deficit budget,” Johnson said.

Instead of breaking the oath, Kate Stein, a member of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Education Society, asked if the board would consider sending the province two budgets; the balanced one, and a needs-based one to advocate for increased funding. 

“There is a movement in the province right now where people are mobilizing to stand in solidarity for education,” Stein said. “We’re all seeing these cuts, and I think submitting a needs budget going ‘this is what it would really take to sufficiently meet the needs of our students’ would be a way that our district could stand with the other districts in our province to send a message to our government that education needs to be more of a priority.”

The board has not discussed the possibility of filing a needs-based budget, but Johnson said they can look into it.

In response to an inquiry about needs-based budgets, including how many the province has received, the Ministry of Environment provided the following statement:

“We do not track so-called needs based budgets. Only budgets submitted in compliance with the School Act are formally received by the ministry.”

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