Jason Sandquist, school district secretary-treasurer. (Citizen file)

SD79 finalizes $106-million budget for 2019-20

$2.1-million increase in revenue from previous year

The Cowichan Valley school district has finalized its approximately $106-million budget for the 2019-20 school year.

Secretary-treasurer Jason Sandquist said that while school districts’ annual budgets are mostly finalized each spring in most districts in B.C., it takes until after Christmas to nail down the exact number of students enrolled in the district for the year and the associated revenues and expenses to complete the budget process.

He said the district received approximately $2.1 million more from the province, and its other revenue sources like tuition for international students, than it did in the 2018-19 school year.

Sandquist said that’s largely due to increased enrolment (the equivalent of approximately 80 full-time students) in 2019-20 and the number of courses being taken.

“We hired seven new teacher positions (on top of the approximately 520 that were in the district beforehand) to help deal with increased enrolment,” Sandquist said.

“We had dropping enrolment for many years in the district before 2015, but then it started to turn around.”

Sandquist said there has been no increase in support staff, which includes approximately 100 maintenance and ground workers, custodians and bus drivers, in 2019-20, but the district is expected to spend approximately $500,000 more on operations and maintenance than the previous year.

He said it is mainly due to inflationary pressures, such as the two per cent negotiated wage increase for support staff, and increased custodial duties due to the additional classrooms in the district required to implement the court order requiring smaller class sizes and changes to class composition.

Sandquist said the budget process for the 2020-21 school year has already begun and the public should stay tuned for meetings in which they can provide input over the coming months.

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