District in the black so far

The black ink is flowing through Nanaimo school district's budget documents – for now.

The black ink is flowing through Nanaimo school district’s budget documents – for now.

Just over two months into the 2011-12 school year, secretary treasurer Phil Turin is predicting the district will end the year with a $900,000 surplus, but this could change in the coming months, he warned.

And he’s expecting next year’s finances to be well in the red.

“We’re into funding protection big time and this isn’t good, it’s not sustainable,” said Turin. “This district will be in financial crisis unless it starts to do things differently.”

The district qualified for funding protection this year due to declining enrolment. The protection prevents the district from receiving less money than it received the year previous, even though fewer students returned to school.

If the district is not granted funding protection again next year, Turin believes trustees are facing a deficit of about $5.35 million, which increases to about $5.7 million in the 2013-14 school year.

“There’s no funding protection guaranteed at this point,” he said. “My caution to the group is we need to hold as much as we can.”

The district lost fewer students than expected, but the numbers are still down from last year – enrolment is now 13,141 full-time students compared with 13,214 last year. Predictions were for 13,024 students to return this fall.

Nanaimo also lost more designated special needs students – about 118 fewer than projected and down 258 from last year.

Much of the special needs losses are due to an audit last spring that de-designated many students or moved them into special needs categories that do not receive any extra funding – about 50 per cent of the district’s designated special needs students do not qualify for any additional support.

Despite the enrolment and special needs changes, the district’s funding amount will remain the same due to funding protection.

Factors bringing the district into a surplus situation include a lower than expected teacher average salary, fewer education assistants to correspond with fewer designated students – the number of full-time EAs is 23 below budget projections – and more money than expected from accounts dedicated to certain programs or services rolled over from last year’s budget.

The updated budget numbers were presented to trustees and stakeholders on the business committee Wednesday evening.

This time last year, Turin reported to the committee that the district was $700,000 in the red. Those numbers changed in January when the district received unexpected funding from the province.

David Murchie, business committee chairman, said he was glad to hear the district is in a slight surplus situation, but it is worrying that the district is unable to accomplish this through the regular funding formula, as opposed to funding protection.

The black ink is flowing through Nanaimo school district’s budget documents – for now.

Just over two months into the 2011-12 school year, secretary treasurer Phil Turin is predicting the district will end the year with a $900,000 surplus, but this could change in the coming months, he warned.

And he’s expecting next year’s finances to be well in the red.

“We’re into funding protection big time and this isn’t good, it’s not sustainable,” said Turin. “This district will be in financial crisis unless it starts to do things differently.”

The district qualified for funding protection this year due to declining enrolment. The protection prevents the district from receiving less money than it received the year previous, even though fewer students returned to school.

If the district is not granted funding protection again next year, Turin believes trustees are facing a deficit of about $5.35 million, which increases to about $5.7 million in the 2013-14 school year.

“There’s no funding protection guaranteed at this point,” he said. “My caution to the group is we need to hold as much as we can.”

The district lost fewer students than expected, but the numbers are still down from last year – enrolment is now 13,141 full-time students compared with 13,214 last year. Predictions were for 13,024 students to return this fall.

Nanaimo also lost more designated special needs students – about 118 fewer than projected and down 258 from last year.

Much of the special needs losses are due to an audit last spring that de-designated many students or moved them into special needs categories that do not receive any extra funding – about 50 per cent of the district’s designated special needs students do not qualify for any additional support.

Despite the enrolment and special needs changes, the district’s funding amount will remain the same due to funding protection.

Factors bringing the district into a surplus situation include a lower than expected teacher average salary, fewer education assistants to correspond with fewer designated students – the number of full-time EAs is 23 below budget projections – and more money than expected from accounts dedicated to certain programs or services rolled over from last year’s budget.

The updated budget numbers were presented to trustees and stakeholders on the business committee Wednesday evening.

This time last year, Turin reported to the committee that the district was $700,000 in the red. Those numbers changed in January when the district received unexpected funding from the province.

David Murchie, business committee chairman, said he was glad to hear the district is in a slight surplus situation, but it is worrying that the district is unable to accomplish this through the regular funding formula, as opposed to funding protection.