New SD20 cash offers no reprieve for Rossland schools

New money from the province won’t be enough to salvage the grades being airlifted out of Rossland in September.

Projected school district deficits for the next two years will be wiped out with an injection of new cash from the province.

But the new money—around $116 per student—from the Ministry of Education (MOE) won’t be enough to salvage the three senior grades being airlifted out of Rossland in September, said the district’s board chair, Darrell Ganzert.

He said the new money will stop the bleeding that has been going on in the district for the last three years, but won’t resurrect the lost grades of Rossland.

“We made really tough decisions to balance our budget, and then balance it into the future,” he said. “No, it really wouldn’t make any difference at all (in those grades coming back).”

Ganzert said the district would still be $140,000 short of its budget if the three grades came back, the amount the City of Rossland offered up recently, but with conditions.

Those conditions were the hurdles the board of trustees for the district could not accept. Ganzert said he offered to meet with Rossland City council to explain what was wrong with their initial offer. As of yet the City has not taken him up on it, Ganzert noted.

“If they do, then we can explain what the issues are and then they might be able to see another way of offering money that would satisfy, somehow, but I can’t guarantee that,” he stated.

The new money removes the school district from funding protection, said Ganzert, and ensures it won’t have to remove any more money from the budget, meaning no more deep cuts.

“This coming school year appears to be the last time we will have to make these major cuts,” he said. “It seems we have been looking behind at deficit after deficit. Now we can look forward and start planning.”

The Ministry of Education announced the new money in mid March.

The estimated MOE operating grant total for SD20 for the 13/14 year remains relatively the same $34,946,471, said SD20 secretary treasurer, Natalie Verigin, instead of dropping over the next two years as predicted.

The total amount has only changed slightly due to the continued supplement targeted grant called B.C. Education Plan.

The Ministry increased the unit funding per pupil and the resulting funding protection supplement has been decreased substantially. Although this does not impact the district in the 13/14 budget it does impact budgets for future years, said Verigin.

The increase in funding per pupil, full time equivalent is $116, making the total $6,900 per full time equivalent student.

Prior to this funding change the board was facing future funding shortfalls—due to the ministry’s decision of phasing out the funding protection supplement—of around $500,000 for the 14/15 year and, again, another $500,000 in the 15/16 year.

This anticipated shortfall in funding, said Verigin, would have made the 14/15 and 15/16 budget processes difficult.

Now, because the funding protection supplement funding amount for 13/14 is $70,585, the 14/15 year budget is only affected by a potential loss of funding in the amount of $70,585 (rather than the estimated $500,000).

“This is the good news for the district,” she said.

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