After a long process of discussions and readings, the Chilliwack Board of Education has approved its amended budget for the current school year.
The budget is balanced, at just over $174 million. It is due to the Ministry of Education by the end of February.
“Never has an amended budget received more attention and scrutiny via three readings,” said Trustee Heather Maahs, adding that it’s not a bad thing. “Moving forward I anticipate lots of board participation in our budget and finance and planning and audit conversations.”
Darrell Furgason said he didn’t get a chance for input into expenditures or decision making, and was the sole vote against the amended budget.
The budget was initially brought to the board in April 2020, and was discussed three times that year. They discussed it five times this year, as Trustee David Swankey pointed out during the third reading. It was also discussed at the budget meetings, which minutes show that Furgason has attended.
Trustee Jared Mumford said the hestitation by some trustees to pass the budget has allowed them a chance to look at the overall process, and how they can have more input.
“After all, it is a large budget, and we are trustees and that is our job,” he said.
Trustee Barry Neufeld said he would be voting against the budget, but then moments later voted in favour.
There are concerns among board members because next school year’s budget is expected to be a tough one, and could involve cutting programs. The budget process for school districts is a continual cycle. Staff wait for the provincial government funding announcement in mid-March to get started on a preliminary budget. That budget will roll out to the board, the budget committee and the public throughout April.
The preliminary budget will then have its three readings by the board, and be sent back to the Ministry of Education by June 30, 2021. Budgets are amended after the winter break, to better reflect the actual costs and revenue of the school year.
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