School board chair Korleen Carreras. (The News files)

School board chair Korleen Carreras. (The News files)

Funding shortfalls expected in SD42 for next four years

School board chair concerned with the lack of COVID-relief funding for next year

The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District is expecting some money issues in the coming years.

The preliminary budget unveiled at the April 14 school board meeting estimated a funding shortfall of $1.74 million for the 2021/22 school year, followed by similar deficits until 2025.

A funding shortfall of $1.43 million is expected for the 2022/23 school year, one of $0.58 million is predicted for 2023/24, and another one of $1.22 million for the 2024/25 school year.

“We are seeing a funding shortfall for next year, but thankfully due to increased student enrollment and the management of our budget by skilled district staff, we were able to protect structures and supports that best support our students,” said school board chair Korleen Carreras.

“We have had to be strategic in where we spend our dollars but we feel that this budget does reflect our strategic plan, and resources are being spent where they can have the biggest positive impact,” noted Carreras, adding the budget process this year was challenging.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school board expecting COVID will impact budget

However, she said, they are grateful to be in a much better position than many other districts in the Lower Mainland.

Carreras is concerned with the lack of COVID relief funding for next year. And, she said, although they are presenting a balanced budget, they could be in a very difficult financial situation if they are still operating with COVID restrictions in September.

Other budget pressures, noted Carreras, include: the lack of funding from the Provincial government to fully fund collective agreement contract increases; inflationary costs; and additional resources to mitigate any learning impact due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district estimating $2.74 million budget shortfall

And, the International Education Program is still seeing significantly lower enrollment. Carreras expects the program will not be back to pre-COVID registration levels for another four years.

“We are also seeing increased transportation costs while participation is declining.”

More than 15,000 students are in the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district at 22 elementary schools, six secondary schools, and two alternate schools. There are also a variety of certificate programs and other learning opportunities through Ridge Meadows College and Continuing Education.

A community input session took place Wednesday, April 28. The school board also received more than 500 responses to an online survey – all of which they will take into account before making their final deliberations on the budget, which is expected to be adopted on May 5.

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