Did you know that the Chilliwack school board’s budget for this school year was more than $137 million?
That’s the cost of keeping local students educated, from the young kindergartners welcomed into the classroom each fall, to more than 1,000 high school graduates receiving their diplomas in the summer.
It’s the cost of transportation, keeping the lights and heat on in the schools and portables, paying the teachers, administration, custodians and office staff, purchasing ever-upgrading equipment and computer programs, covering sick leaves, and of course, filling classrooms with learning materials.
And that’s just a short list.
Budgets can be complicated to sort through, and school budgets — which are susceptible to changes due to factors like enrolment changes and budget cuts — can be difficult to understand.
But Chilliwack School District’s secretary treasurer Gerry Slykhuis will be presenting the upcoming school year budget to the public in an easier-to-understand format on March 9 in a presentation at CSS.
He will run through an explanation of the budget process, and speak about challenges in the budget. He will also be gathering input and answering questions from the public.
The last few years have been increasingly difficult years for budgeting, as costs of providing an education rises but funding is decreasing.
“We’ve had two really rough years of cuts,” Slykhuis said. And when this year’s provincial budget was announced last week, it was more bad news for B.C. schools.
“I’m always hoping for some new money but that wasn’t to be the case,” he added. Schools in the province “haven’t had an real increase in a long time,” as cost pressures continue to increase.
Over the past few years there have been increases in utilities, the cost of a new reporting system, necessary technical upgrades, and wage increases. This year, there was another new cost — implementing a new curriculum province wide, which included a very small sum to cover substitutes while teachers receive training.
The new curriculum represents “a fairly huge cost for us and a great deal of work,” Slykhuis said.
School boards can only estimate their costs on a yearly basis. Fluctuating student numbers and provincial funding both make it difficult to pinpoint a final budget number.
This year’s increased enrolment is thought to be due to new students arriving from Alberta, and larger cities in Metro Vancouver, as the economy changes and housing prices soar.
To learn more about the process, drop in at the presentation, Wednesday, March 9, at Chilliwack secondary’s Alumni Hall.
For more information, phone Gerry Slykhuis at 604-792-1321 or email firstname.lastname@example.org