Challenges ahead for Rossland schools after funding change

Rossland Secondary School has long been considered as a possible facility to close, and may be once again under pressure.

School District 20 is once again facing challenging times with respect to balancing its budget for next year, due to changes in the provincial government education funding formula and financial pressures within the school district.

As a result, given that 87 percent of the district’s budget goes to salaries and therefore is very challenging to cut, closing facilities is once again being discussed as a potential approach to resolving the district’s budget issues.

Since RSS has long been considered as a possible facility to close, it may be once again under pressure despite the district’s Facilities Plan 2011-2015, which proposes to reduce costs by reconfiguring RSS as a K-12 school and closing MacLean Elementary.

The new provincial government funding formula, announced in December 2011 is intended to provide greater funding security for smaller school districts and more geographically dispersed school districts.

However, the new  funding formula negatively affects School District 20, which is projecting about a $500,000 decrease in their budget as a result. This, coupled with the depletion of the district’s reserve money (due to past funding pressures), and the emergence of new funding pressures this year has resulted in the projection of a $1.4 million funding shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

This funding shortfall is significant. Yet closing facilities saves only $200,000 to $400,000 per year, depending on the facility. School District 20 has already closed 14 schools in this district in the last 15 years, and there are only 12 left in operation.

The Neighbourhood of Learning (NOL) Committee is urging the school district to make their case at a provincial level and demonstrate that the new funding formula simply does not work for some districts.

Some neighbouring school districts, due to their geographic make up and enrolment levels, receive almost $5000 more in supplementary funding per FTE (full time equivalent) student than School District 20.

With only $360 more per FTE in supplementary funding, School District 20 would have no funding shortfalls and could maintain all of its very valued schools.

All of the neighbouring school districts receive more per student than School District 20.

We cannot close any more schools in School District 20 without affecting the sustainability of individual communities and the region as a whole.

The Kootenay-Columbia district is comprised of many diverse communities that are all essential to making our region economically sustainable and attractive to new residents.

If one community is significantly negatively affected with respect to the services and amenities it has to offer, all of the communities in the district will feel the economic and social impacts.

It is a critical time for Rossland schools, and Rosslanders need to make their voices heard.

Please fill out the NOL Rossland Schools Survey and make your views known so NOL knows what to fight for and what perspectives to present to the school district. All views and ideas matter. Rossland residents completing this survey will be eligible for a $50 draw prize.

To be eligible for the draw prize, surveys must be completed by March 19. The link to the survey is here.

Paper copies of the survey can be picked up at City Hall, MacLean Elementary and Rossland Secondary School and dropped off at city hall.

 

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