School Boards must present a balanced budget to the Ministry of Education by June 30 (School Act, division 2, Section 113). SD61 finalizes next school year’s budget to avoid staffing upheavals over the summer, and at the school level in September, as much as possible.
This was the 4th and final budget meeting of 4 meetings dedicated to the topic, at which Trustees asked questions, discussed options, and had discussions with members of the public. Partner group input had been sought before the meetings.
One member of the public attended for part of this final budget meeting. The agenda was approved with an addition of a motion from the floor from Whiteaker: That the Board create a Parent Education Fund as part of the 2016-17 budget . No public presentations to the Board. Full agenda with financial statements and schedules here.
C. 1 2016/17 Annual Budget Debate
a) Recommended Motions [recommended by Secretary-Treasurer]
i) That the Board approve carrying forward $5,910,764 to the 2016/17 school year to be applied against the projected deficit./ Carried. Unanimous.
ii) That the Board approve not spending up to $800,000 on capital assets from the local capital reserve in 2015/16. / Whiteaker: Motion to postpone indefinitely. / Carried. Unanimous.
The motion was believed by Trustees to unnecessary as the original motion allowed spending “up to”, which would include spending nothing; as well, negatively worded motions are discouraged by Robert’s Rules 11th Edition p 105: “It is preferable to avoid a motion containing a negative statement…”. “Postpone indefinitely” demonstrates intention by the meeting to not deal with the motion.
iii) That the Board approve carrying forward $1,800,000 to the 2017/18 school year to be applied against the projected deficit. / Carried. Unanimous.
b) New Business:
i) Whiteaker: That the Board create a Parent Education Fund as part of the 2016-17 budget item : PAC Grant of $6000, which will be administered under the guidelines for the Parent Education Fund. / Tabled to June Board meeting. Motion to table: For: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Whiteaker Against: McNally, Watters
- Whiteaker:Last year this fund held $7000, and was successful. The SD61 Strategic Plan emphasizes building community and this fund does that, as schools collaborate to pool resources for parent education and events. With 48 school sites = 48 PACs, at $260 per school, the fund = $6,000. Suggest run this one more year and look at data then to see how it’s working. In year 2 there will probably be more involvement as PACs increasingly utilize the fund.
- Paynter: Is this $6000 in the budget?
- Secretary-Treasurer: The $6000 would come from the item “PAC funding” . District PACS / DPACs [like VCPAC] get 24 cents per student FTE plus $165 per school, plus in SD61, $4000 annually to help support the Vancouver Island Parent Conference which the SD61 DPAC has organized.[Additionally, DPACs get gaming grants which they apply for. Some Districts allot $0 to the local DPAC. Whiteaker’s presentation on DPAC funding from May 2015 here.] Last year the Fund re-allocation was $7000 ($4000 from the Conference District grant plus another $3000). DPAC (VCPAC) would still get $10,000. Over past number of years SD61 has budgeted $10,000 but this didn’t reflect the formula the District agreed to use over the years, so the budget was adjusted. The Board has been giving $16,000 to VCPAC on an annual basis. [VCPAC has a significant contingency fund, around $20,000.]
- Orcherton: We have been spending $16,000 a year on VCPAC, so this motion is to take $6,000 from that for PACS, leaving $10,000 for VCPAC?
- Secretary-Treasurer: Yes.
- Orcherton: Won’t support this. VCPAC should have the money they’ve had in the past. VCPAC / DPAC can find ways to educate more parents with less money. Feel strongly that this is disrespecting VCPAC. VCPAC feels not respected by this Board.
- Ferris: Scope and quality of conference VCPAC puts on is exeptional. $16,000 is a small amount of money. Could create a fund outside of it. Not necessarily against a separate fund. Taking fro VCPAC / DPAC is not right.
- McNally: The new SD61 Strategic Plan emphasizes community and the Parent Education fund strengthens collaboration and community amongst schools as they combine resources to benefit their parent community. Don’t understand claims that this fund is not supporting parents. It’s direct support of parents at the parent-controlled school PAC level.Some Districts give no money to the DPAC.
- Secretary-Treasurer: The $7,000 last year had a 1 year term associated with it, and was not a permanent reallocation.
- Leonard: Against this last year and against it now. DPAC should administer all the money.
- Paynter: Was a pilot project. Expectation was that information would come back as a basis to make a decision going forward. Don’t have that. Motion to table to June Board meeting. / Motion to table carried. For: Ferris, Leonard, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Whiteaker Against motion to table: Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Watters
C.2 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw
a) Recommended motion (recommended by Secretary-Treasurer)
i) That the Board agree to give all 3 readings of the 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw at the meeting of April 20, 2016. (Motion to be carried unanimously.) / Carried. Unanimous.
ii) That the Board 2016/17 Annual Budget Bylaw in the amount of $211,963,918 be read a 1st, 2nd and 3d time, and passed and adopted on this 20th day of April 2016, and that the Secretary-Treasurer and Board Chair be authorized to sign , seal and execute this bylaw on behalf of the Board. / Carried. For: Ferris, Leonard, Loring-Kuhanga, McNally, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker Against: Nohr
- Nohr: Support all the work that has gone into this budget, but not the motion. Letter on p. 26 of this agenda describes the unmet needs in SD61 . There is a lack of direct instruction for vulnerable students. Its unacceptable that underfunding continues. This is a moral issue. [Summary of Nohr’s longer speech.]
- Ferris: Support the general feelings of Nohr. Support the Board and employees as well, and the consensus is that this is the best we can do at this time.
The Board will approach the partners named as potential signatories to this letter in hopes that all will agree to sign on. VCPAC has declined to be a signatory.
I voted against the SD61 budget in my first term, hoping that many Boards would follow the example of the Cowichan Board in 2012, when a majority of Trustees voted to submit only a budget that reflected true needs of the District. The Board was fired, and a Provincial Trustee appointed. It was interesting to see one person only making motions and one person only voting on them. Very efficient. None of that messy debate and democracy.
No other Board voted in majority to submit a needs budget only.
SD61 has submitted a parallel “needs budget” in the past, and this year is submitting the document on p.26 (above) of the agenda which specifies needs identified by stakeholders that can’t be met with the funding we get from the Province.
I voted in favour of this budget because I believe that handing over the Board of SD61 Greater Victoria to a provincial government appointed Trustee would create greater problems for the District and students at this time, but next year, if major cuts are required, that assessment may not hold.
The Greater Victoria school board has passed a 2016-17 budget without major problems, but a tougher time is expected in 2017.“We’re in a better position than most school boards are,” said chairwoman Edith Loring-Kuhanga.“A lot of the school boards across the province are having to make some serious cuts. We will face that next year.” Projections indicate there could be a deficit of $7 million to $8 million, she said. The Board has approved a 2016-17 operating budget of about $182 million and an overall budget of $212 million that includes capital funds and other items.