Chilliwack school district budget tops $161 million for next year

Current budget doesn’t include recent increases to teacher wages, says secretary treasurer

The Chilliwack School District is purchasing two Clorox 360 machines soon to help keep schools clean, district staff noted in a report to the school board on May 12, 2020. (Clorox image)

The finance team at the Chilliwack School District rolled out three documents for board perusal and approval this week.

That included the first reading of the 2020/2021 budget of $161,886,572, a quarterly financial report that details changes to this year’s budget, and a new three-year projection expected to help plan for the future.

And within all of those numbers were several interesting bits that relate to COVID-19.

The Chilliwack School District is purchasing two Clorox 360 machines soon to help keep schools clean, district staff noted in a report to the school board on May 12, 2020. (Clorox image)

For example, the district is purchasing two electrostatic sprayers at a cost of $12,000, to help keep areas disinfected.

Electrostatic sprayers charge liquids that pass through a sprayer nozzle. Those charged droplets attach to surfaces to clean them. These will be the first sprayers purchased by the district, and are being bought specifically because of the health risks of the novel coronavirus.

Also, as could be expected, rental income that the district usually relies on has dropped as gatherings have not been permitted. That loss of revenue is contributing to changes to this year’s current budget, to the tune of about $62,000.

READ MORE: B.C. schools Zoom to online education amid COVID-19

The school board unanimously approved the first reading of the draft budget, following a brief rundown from Gerry Slykhuis, secretary treasurer, and Mark Friesen, assistant secretary treasurer. As this is the first reading of the budget, there will be changes throughout the year.

Missing in this budget are the recent wage increases for teachers, Slykhuis says, but it does include the raises approved for CUPE workers. What makes it into this first version of the budget comes down to timing, he says.

“At the time, we were not able to include that information, but the amended budget in September will have two years of wage increases for teachers,” he explained.

The same goes for the Special Purpose Funds line items. While they can predict the government will be giving similar amounts for things like student mental health and the Classroom Enhancement Fund, they can’t project funds that haven’t been announced formally by the Ministry of Education.

“We are not allowed to put that into the preliminary budget,” he said, explaining why those line items were currently at zero.

The board chose to do only one budget reading to give the public time to look over the budget numbers as well. There was a presentation of the budget at the April 7 meeting as well.

The second and third reading will likely take place at the next board meeting, which is planned for May 26 and will likely be held via Zoom.

READ MORE: Chilliwack school district rolls out next year’s budget, expects COVID-19 costs to change things


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jpeters@theprogress.com

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