The Interlake School Division’s Board of Trustees hosted a ratepayer’s night to present its tentative budget for 2018-19 to members of the public at Ecole Stonewall Centennial School Feb. 22. (Juliet Kadzviti/The Stonewall Argus & Teulon Times)
The Interlake School Division Board of Trustees presented their draft budget for the 2018-19 academic year at a ratepayer’s night at Ecole Stonewall Centennial School Feb. 22.
The budget indicated a slight decrease in provincial funding, although the major talking point was the board’s plan to fall under the province’s 15% cap on administration costs.
This cap, which meant the ISD had to find about $70,000 in savings in this area, has lead to marginal cuts in non-salary ways in the superintendent and secretary treasurers departments and a proposed change to the number of board trustees for 2018-19, board chair Alan Campbell explained.
“So what we are looking at this year, is reducing the number of trustees from nine to seven, which is a significant consideration for the board,” he said, noting the historical importance of trustees in school divisions.
“Reducing the number of democratically elected members to form the basis of public education in the Interlake strikes at the heart of the democratic process that was the driving force of the creation of public school boards,” he added.
Campbell noted that this change however, will not affect the effectiveness of trustees in terms of representing their wards.
“What’s important for our communities to know is that a review in the number of trustees doesn’t mean that anyone goes unrepresented, it just means that the number of people that each trustee represents goes up,” Campbell said.
This decrease in trustees will result in the board conducting a review of wards in ISD to determine a revised ward map.
“There will be more public consultation on that, and we encourage our community to look out for that and engage your local trustee on that.”
“On the basis that we do not get significant push back from the community and that members of the community support the proposal, the ISD would run a slate of seven trustees instead of nine in the fall elections,” he explained.
The draft budget indicates it will balance at $38.3 million. Revenue will come from provincial funding of $16, 693,438 (43.59%), other provincial funding of $900,908, special requirement (property taxation amount) of $20,321,460 (53.06%) and other sources just shy of $385,000.
Regular instruction will take the bulk of expenses at $22.144 million or 58.35% of the budget. Student services make up 17.19% of expenses, while support services make up 20.82 % of the projected budget.
Compared to the 2017-18 approved budget, this year’s projected budget’s expenditure increase is $200,000 or 0.52%. Provincial funding support will decrease by 0.88%, while the special requirement will increase by 2%.
Projected enrollment for 2018 at all schools is expected to be at around 2,915, a 15 student increase from 2017. In 2019, the projected enrollment is 2,950. Professional teaching staff in ISD excluding clinicians will remain relatively steady for 2018-19 at 227.26 compared to 227.89. The average pupil to student ratio is 18.66.
The special levy mill rate for 2018 will be 13.588, an increase of 0.145 from the 2017 mill rate of 13.733. The provincial average for 2017 was 13.8.
The division will provide voluntary, no-charge preschool programming in each community to support four-year-old children and their families to transition into Kindergarten.
ISD will also place new GPS systems in all of its vehicles and buses for efficiency, tracking routes, parent/student routing availability/safety and vehicle diagnostics.
The board is looking to create a capital fund to put towards fixing the science labs at Warren Collegiate Institute and Teulon Collegiate Institute.
The board will create an initial reserve of $50,000 to be placed in the capital fund. The draft budget will be submitted to the province in March for approval.