School District 70 officials want to use the district’s $900,000 surplus to balance its debt and keep existing programs and services.
SD70 secretary treasurer Lindsay Cheetham outlined the plan to trustees and the public at their May 13 meeting.
According to Cheetham, the district is spending $900,000 more than it is bringing in. “We can’t spend what we don’t have,” he said.
Cheetham cautioned trustees about continuing to pontificate about inadequate funding from the provincial government. “But if we don’t have the funds we shouldn’t be spending them.”
The district is either going to have to find some revenue somewhere or restrict spending, he added.
While programs and services are maintained for at least this year the plan comes at a cost as three teaching positions will have to be eliminated.
The hurt could come in next year’s budget though. The district will be forced to replenish its surplus as well as find another $500,000 to offset the loss of Ministry of Education funding protection.
Using up the surplus is too risky, trustee Pam Craig said. “Other factors could come up and we’d have no recourse, no fall back.”
Cheetham said that there is about $60,000 left over and that staff are still crunching numbers to buttress the surplus. But registering a deficit triggers a formal process, and a plan would have to be developed with the Ministry of Education to deal with it, he said.
More than 88 per cent of the budget is salaries and benefits costs, Cheetham said. “There’s a good chance what we find will be in employee cuts,” he said.
Responding to a question from former trustee Rodney Rogers about further school closures, chairperson Larry Ransom replied “There will be no further discussion until after the election.”
Cheetham will bring a final budget for adoption at trustees next meeting.