School board hangs on to surplus

While the teachers' strike is likely over, the Nanaimo school district is being advised to save a $4.1 million unrestricted surplus.

With the uncertainty caused by the B.C. teachers’ strike, the Nanaimo school district board is being advised not to spend an unrestricted surplus of approximately $4.1 million.

According to audited financial statements for 2013-14, which the school board approved  Wednesday, a restricted surplus of about $3.7 million was reported, along with the unrestricted amount, for a total surplus of $7.8 million.

Phil Turin, school district secretary-treasurer, said it would be best to put it in reserve.

“The forecast that I provided to the board back in the late spring showed that we would be short next year (2015-16) $3.5 million and until we actually see the enrolment and go through all of that again, that remains to be seen on where we’re going to be, higher or lower,” said Turin.

He pointed to the recent contract settlement with Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents support workers, stating there would be costs involved which the provincial government would be unlikely to pay for. Turin also expressed concern about the situation that will occur now that the teachers’ dispute is resolved.

“The ministry could come calling, so my advice to trustees at this time is, yes, those are the results of your financial position as of June 30, 2014 [but] we have labour strife in the district and we also know that the 2015-16 budget is going to be short, based on our latest analysis.

The school district saw some savings due to the strike, as it didn’t have to pay teacher salaries, but Turin said about $3.5 million had to be returned to the ministry while the school district kept roughly $800,000.