School district finances better than anticipated

Nanaimo school district could end the year with more money in the bank than expected.

Nanaimo school district could end the year with more money in the bank than expected.

Between March and April, estimated surplus funds have grown by more than $900,000 from about $1.78 million to $2.7 million, said Phil Turin, secretary-treasurer, a change he attributes to having more actual expense and revenue numbers to work with, rather than the projections staff start the year off with.

“As we get closer to the end of the year, we get to be more finite and exact in our estimations,” he said. “We’re still being conservative, but we’ve only got two months left in the year.”

Of the $2 million in savings identified by staff to help balance next year’s budget, $1.5 million is coming out of this $2.7-million surplus.

Turin said of the remaining $1.2 million, some will be restricted to spend on certain programs and areas, but he’s hoping at least $500,000 of it will be available to help balance the 2014-15 budget.

Trustees recently approved the 2013-14 budget in which staff had to find $4.7 million in savings to balance the books – the $2 million mentioned above and a further $2.7 million through cuts to programs and services – and earlier this year, Turin forecasted a shortfall of $7 million for the 2014-15 budget.

He said the extra $922,000 in surplus funds is due to more international students than expected; transferring some teaching salaries from the operating budget to a special fund given to districts to address issues with classroom size and composition – the learning improvement fund – as the fund must be spent by the end of the year; more money from the province for a higher number of distance learners than anticipated; and fewer expenditures for teachers-on-call than estimated.