Home Education Westshore - SD62 Public input coming up on SD62 budget 2022-2023


Public input coming up on SD62 budget 2022-2023

Public input meeting online Tuesday April 19, 2022 at 6 pm. | What should be cut? Dip into reserves?

Tuesday April 12, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated 12:45 pm April 13, 2022]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Public input on the SD62 2022-2023 budget is coming up Tues April 19 at SD62 Education Committee of the Whole (ECOW), at 6 pm.

The ECOW meeting will be accessible online [see link to SD62 April 19, 2022 ECOW meeting].

Tonight SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull explained to the SD62 Resource Committee (in a livestreamed public meeting) that at least two things will take a hit on the budget, for which there is a shortfall of $3.085 million: inflationary impacts in a spiraling-upwards economy, and the added operational overhead of about $1.5 million to operate two new schools in Westhills (opening Sept 2022).

It’s a bit mystifying as to the incremental costs to open Pexsisen (elementary school) and Centre Mountain Lellum (middle school) being identified as a budget shortfall. The two schools have been in the planning and construction phase for years. A primary thrust of school planning since 2014 has been with the knowledge that with fast-paced housing growth that school enrolment has increased each year and is expected to do so for now years to come.

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SD62 budget shortfall is open for discussion at the April 19, 2022 Education Committee of the Whole meeting.

The Ministry of Education provides per-pupil fees as school district revenue, but SD62 has meanwhile lost revenues due to a drop in international student enrollment and fewer rentals of fields and classrooms during the pandemic.

Proposed transportation savings:

One of the ways to reduce costs is to ‘maintain’ school bus service at the present level (which means not expanding the service even though the number of students in SD62 increases each year).

harold cull, bob beckett, sd62
SD62 Secretary-Treasurer Harold Cull and SD62 Vice-Chair Bob Beckett at the April 12, 2022 SD62 Resources Committee Meeting. [MS Teams]

Cull proposes that ‘safe routes to school’ be identified for students within walking/cycling distance and that busing not even be offered to students deemed to fall within those pedestrian/cyclist route. In inclement weather, it would be the parents’ responsibility to get their children to and from school.

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Discussion about changes to the bus transportation policy, at the April 12, 2022 Resources Committee meeting.

Students will be offered busing if they are at schools beyond their usual catchment area if they are registered in a ‘program of choice’ which includes sports academies.

Bits and pieces of revenue are achieved through the bus transportation model with a $25 annual ‘safety fee’ upon registration and a $100 late-registration fee in September.

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Rural and elementary students will be prioritized in SD62 transportation services in 2022-2023.

School population increases each year:

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This year the student population is about 11,600 but is expected to be around 12,100 for the school year starting September 2022.

The number of students increases each year due to the continual housing growth in the Langford, Colwood and Sooke areas.

In 2015 two new high schools (Belmont Secondary and Royal Bay Secondary) were opened to help keep up with population demand. The two new schools opening this fall (Pexsisen Elementary and Centre Mountain Lellum Middle School) will help, says Cull, but facility growth is always playing catch-up with population increases.

Tonight the secretary-treasurer — now 10 years with SD62 — said that his biggest worry is how the capital budget will pan out. The school district is dependent on Ministry of Education funding approval in order to build new schools. Land availability is a concomitant concern. As Committee Chair Bob Beckett put it, the need for more schools is not a matter of if, but when.

Some portable classrooms will need to shifted around the district to where needed. Some portables are too old to be used and it sounds like those will be disposed of.

Using reserves could be risky:

About one-third of SD62 ‘leadership’ (senior staff and stakeholders including principals and vice-principals, teachers, CUPE staff, parent group, and others) leans toward buffering these impacts by dipping into reserves, according to a straw poll taken by Cull. But he does not prefer that.

Cull prefers a more conservative approach, referring to dipping into reserves as ‘the Vegas approach’. In the past few years the SD62 board decided on maintaining a two percent reserve, for use in case of emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. It remains open to interpretation, then, as to what constitutes enough pressure as to when reserves would be used.

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Long-time SD62 Trustee Wendy Hobbs at the April 12, 2022 Resources Committee meeting. [MS Teams]

Tonight long-term Trustee Bob Phillips prophesied that “this (provincial) government” will not have a lot of funding, referring no doubt to the heavy impacts of pandemic spending and economic recovery and pivoting that BC has had to undertake until now and going forward. He notes that this is a heavy year for salary negotiations, and hope that equity for various types of staff is achieved.

Other budget items:

Tonight there was some specific budget discussion around the cost of ventilation and related duct cleaning, some health and safety aspects such as cleaning up rodent droppings in classrooms and school areas, and whether funding for school counselors has kept up with the growing student population.

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EMCS math teacher Ed Berlando at the SD62 Resources Committee meeting, April 12, 2022.

The facilities budget includes a $60,000 lighting upgrade outside Ruth King Elementary, considered a safety feature on the school grounds at night. Sooke Teachers Association rep Ed Berlando was strongly in favour of that improvement for teacher safety.

The increase in SD62 trustee salaries (as passed by the board on January 25, 2022) was raised for discussion by Trustee Wendy Hobbs, though with a wink and a comment (off microphone) by committee chair SD62 Board Vice-Chair Bob Beckett, after discussing that item live online. The line item for trustee remuneration includes paying for travel, professional development, and other expenses related to serving as a member of the SD62 board.

Recouping parking lot costs:

Trustee Wendy Hobbs also thought the school district might look at getting help with the extra cost of security to make sure people are not parking where they should not be at Belmont Secondary School when the lot is made available to third-party groups. As well, she suggested SD62 get extra help with the cost of cleanup the garbage that is left after third-party use of the parking lot.

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Hobbs made those comments in the context of a staff person’s feedback about the use (vehicles up on sidewalk areas) and resultant condition (garbage left behind) of the Belmont Secondary School parking lot after the Starlight Stadium game this past weekend (Canada vs. Nigeria – women’s soccer).

She suggested that the cost for parking lot management and post-event cleanup after the Belmont Secondary School parking lot after use to accommodate visitors for high-attendance nighttime or weekend games could be something that the stadium and/or City of Langford is asked to pay for.

In other words, the school district should not bear the support costs for an event not related to the school.

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Mary Brooke, editor, West Shore Voice News
Mary P Brooke, Editor and Publisher, Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR, has been covering SD62 news at the board and committee level since 2014, through West Shore Voice News and now here at Island Social Trends.

The Island Social Trends Journalism Scholarship is open to graduating students of SD62 each graduation season.