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Budget surplus to address growing needs of SD42

Part of surplus to go towards temporary classroom fund to help with growing enrolment
School board chair Elaine Yamamoto speaks at a recent announcement about provincial funding approval for a new high school in Pitt Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan/The News)

A surplus in the school district’s amended annual budget for 2022/23 will see more money going towards capital needs in the district not funded by the government – including temporary classrooms to house more students in the coming years.

A $1.13 million surplus was reported by secretary-treasurer Flavia Coughlan at the March 1 school board meeting and this excess money will be used to increase funds available in three capital budgets: the Contingency Reserve for Local Capital which will increase from $0.07 million to $1.85 million; the New Temporary Classroom Setup which will increase from $0.94 million to $2.71 million; and Sustainability Upgrades which will increase from $0.12 million to $0.58 million.

“The local capital balance is always comprised of previous years’ operating surpluses,” explained school board chair Elaine Yamamoto.

Yamamoto said the 2022/23 preliminary budget highlighted the importance of capital investments that need to be made from available operating funds which include temporary new classroom spaces, sustainability upgrades, and the renewal of facilities other than schools.

“Because using the entire contingency reserve for local capital would leave a funding shortfall of $3.21 million, it was approved as a part of the 2022/23 budget process that, for the next four years, any available operating surplus be transferred to local capital,” she said.

The Contingency Reserve for Local Capital is to maintain a minimum of one per cent of budgeted operating expenditures, or $1.85 million, as required by board policy, Yamamoto explained.

The New Temporary Classroom Setup can receive up to a maximum of $2.71 million – since as a growing district, Yamamoto explained, portables will continue to be needed while new schools are advocated for.

And a maximum of $1.75 million can be set aside for Sustainability Upgrades and Other Facilities Renewal.

This year, student enrollment was higher than projected, meaning more families chose to move to homes within the district and Yamamoto is expecting the enrolment growth pattern to continue next year and beyond.

RELATED: Province announces funding for new high school for Pitt Meadows

Projections for the next four school years were submitted to the Ministry of Education that show an increase in kindergarten to Grade 12 enrollment by 343 full-time students in 2023/24 raising enrollment to 15,970; in 2024/25 an additional 226 full-time student increase bringing enrollment to 16,196; another 213 full-time students for a projected enrollment of 16,409 in 2025/26; and in 2026/27 an additional 230 full-time students bringing total enrolment to 16,639 full-time equivalents.

And these numbers do not reflect growth in enrollment for students in online learning, students with special needs, English language learners, and Indigenous education – which are all projected to increase with the exception of online learning which is expected to increase next school year and then decrease in 2024/25, with no projections after that.

Summer learning courses are also expected to increase over the next four years.

ALSO: School board trustee wants provincial task force to help educators with substance use education

International education enrolment is expected to decrease by 21 full-time students, bringing total enrolment to 574 students next year, enrolment is expected to remain unchanged the three years after.

Total enrolment growth is expected to go from 16,175 full-time students this school year to 17,195 in the 2026/27 school year.

“The enrolment growth means that we need to create new classroom spaces and hire more staff to support the increased number of students attending our schools,” noted Yamamoto.

Yamamoto is pleased with the enrolment growth in Indigenous education.

“We are happy to see that more students with ancestry are choosing to self-identify and enrol in Indigenous education programs offered by the school district, and we are celebrating the high graduation rates,” she said.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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