There were no tough choices like the ones made last year for Greater Victoria school district trustees voting on their 2015-16 budget last week.
This year’s deficit was just $67,000 on an operating budget of about $181 million, compared with the $1.8-million deficit that had to be pared for 2014-15. The overall 2015-16 budget, including special-purpose funds and capital funds, totals $206,361,204.
Most of this year’s deficit was dealt with by cutting an administrative-assistant position, while the 2014-15 budget had to be balanced with difficult measures such as closing Sundance Elementary School.
Making a big difference to this year’s bottom line was $1.3 million in net savings during the teachers’ strike in 2014, said district superintendent Sherri Bell. Much of the savings came from not having to fully run buildings or other aspects of the system, she said.
Another factor was an increase in revenue from international-student recruitment, which brought in an extra $300,000, Bell said.
“We were worried about that, considering there was a strike.”
School board chairwoman Edith Loring-Kuhanga said the budget was not too contentious this year.
“We had to lay off one person, and it’s one person too many,” Loring-Kuhanga said, “but we certainly didn’t have the same kind of situation that many school districts are in.”
The lone trustee to vote against the budget was Deborah Nohr, who said she has concerns about whether the district receives enough funding to meet the needs of its schools.
Nohr said a school-by-school evaluation determined about $5 million more is required.
In the Saanich school district, trustees discussed potential “budget pressures” ahead of an April 29 meeting where they are scheduled to pass their 2015-16 budget.
Sooke school trustees are set to pass a 2015-16 budget April 28.
B.C. school districts are required to pass balanced budgets each year by June 30.