Supply savings applied to budget

NANAIMO – Projected funding shortfall of $5 million prompts school officials to claw back supplies and services by $1 million.

A projected funding shortfall of $5 million for next year’s budget has prompted Nanaimo school officials to claw back supplies and services budgets by $1 million this year.

With no mention of more money for district operating grants in the provincial budget tabled Tuesday, Phil Turin, the district’s secretary-treasurer, expects that cuts will be necessary to balance the books.

He said the district’s funding protection grant – given to districts with declining enrolment – is scheduled to decline by about $2 million, the $1.6-million surplus used to balance this year’s budget is gone and benefits are expected to increase by more than $1 million, amongst other things.

To help with the situation, officials have cut about $1 million from supplies and services budgets across the district.

The list of cost saving measures include: waiting a period of time before replacing some personnel, holding off on some equipment replacements and postponing special projects.

“It’s tough to do a claw back at the end of the year, but we have to do it,” said Turin.

Combined with a $500,000 surplus carried over from last year and another $500,000 surplus from this year’s budget, the result of the unanticipated enrolment drop and switching over to a new accounting method, he hopes to finish the year with $2 million to put toward next year’s budget.

“It’s better than going into a $5-million problem with nothing,” he said. “Schools are going to have to do more with less. There’s going to be less money out there to do things.”

Donna Reimer, district spokeswoman, said the district will know more when the Education Ministry announces operating grants on March 15, but it doesn’t appear likely that there will be any new money coming to the rescue.