The good news is BC-wide student numbers are up for the first time in nearly 20 years. The bad news is that means the Kootenay Lake school district will receive $482,038 less than anticipated.
“This is good news for the province. Enrollment is up for the first time since 1997,” Kootenay Lake secretary-treasurer Kim Morris told the Star. The unfortunate side is that the district budgeted on receiving “hold-back funds” they normally receive when enrollment is down.
Regardless, the financial hit has been taken care of.
Morris received the news on Dec. 18, and has already completed the financial footwork necessary to re-balance the budget. The district has some benefits savings, as well as some surplus projections on salary spending.
“We’re going to take premium holidays on our extended health and dental. We’ve seen an increase in international program revenue. And we’ve also discovered that the economic stability increase for teachers and CUPE will be funded by the province.”
At one point administrators were concerned the problem was with MyEDBC, a provincially implemented registration system. But an external audit has proven that’s not the case.
“Two major factors are the Albertan economy, with families returning to BC. The other is families returning to the public school system after previously going private.”
Morris theorized some families driven to the private system are buoyed by the fact teachers have more than three years left in their collective agreement and feel comfortable returning after the nasty strike of 2014.
According to her, this financial inconvenience will prove to be “relatively painless.”
“However, it’s still taking $482,000 out of the system and reduces the amount we carry forward to the next year. This takes money out of the system for kids,” she said.