No layoffs of teachers or other staff will be made, but the deficit continues to climb as School District 58 passed its budget for 2015-16.
The budget was balanced, however, with reserve funds to offset the $1.29 million deficit.
SD58 secretary treasurer Kevin Black said increases in expenses outweighed revenues, adding about $500,000 to the school district’s deficit, which was about $780,000 last year.
“We’re in hard times,” Black told the Herald.
He said this deficit is the largest one the district has put forward in the past decade.
The school district has about $6.4 million in reserves, half of which are restricted funds.
“This year, we’ve basically held the line in terms of our expenses with less revenue, so therefore bigger deficit,” Black said.
Although no teachers will lose their jobs, some will be shuffled around the district this coming September.
Due to increasing enrollment at the South Central Interior Distance Education School (SCIDES), three teachers will be moved there, Superintendent Steve McNiven said.
He said the school district is looking into capping the number of students allowed to be enrolled as due to their funding structure, the school district doesn’t receive funding to compensate for increased enrollment in SCIDES.
“We’re addressing [the growth] through some of our reserves, our surplus dollars. We don’t have a specific number in our mind around capping it, but we know we have to control the growth, and that’s important for us from [a] managing our finances perspective,” McNiven said.
Black said the enrollment in their “bricks and mortar” schools has been in decline.
About six teachers are retiring this year, and hiring of additional teachers will likely take place in the fall, McNiven said.
A large chunk of the increased expenditures in this year’s budget is for instruction costs, Black said.
That number is up from last year due to the labour action that spilled over into this school year, he said.
The school district had to make $145,000 worth of administrative cuts this year, and must find about $270,000 between this year and the next.
The provincial government has asked school districts to cut about $50 million in administrative costs over the course of two years.
Although there are no job cuts this year, that could change in the years to come.
Black said the school district’s long-term plan is to see what the deficit comes out to and monitor it closely the year after.
“Our budget process may need to be a little bit different, and we may have discussions around cuts depending on where we’re at in the year,” Black said.
He added that if the status quo remains the same, the district is looking at about a $1.8 million deficit next year.