Submitted. Maintaining current operations and continuing to move ahead with educational strategies are key goals for the Abbotsford Board of Education as it approved a budget of $183.3 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year at its regular meeting Tuesday (May 28) night. This comes at a time when the district is expecting a decline of 174 students for the next school year, which will result in a slight drop in funding from the province.
New initiatives approved by the Board include: a District Innovation Centre to be housed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary and development of a proposal for an outdoor education school. In addition, a new print management model will be introduced across the district which is designed to reduce copying and printing costs and help the district continue to be an environmentally friendly organization.
“These new initiatives, in conjunction with previous commitments, will help address the priorities identified in our Strategic Plan” says Board of Education Chair Cindy Schafer. “Despite fiscal challenges in the public sector, our record of strong financial management positions us well in moving forward. We are pleased to be able to focus resources on providing accessible and flexible educational opportunities for our students.”
Secretary-Treasurer Ray Velestuk reported to the Board that the budget represents no significant changes from the previous year. Spending will be adjusted for enrolment sensitive staffing and will also be reduced in areas of discretionary spending. Overall, spending reductions will have minimal impact on schools.
Cost pressures arising from mandatory teacher pension plan contributions, teacher salary Increments, the return to provincial sales tax (‘PST’) and other benefit plan increases will all be managed within the current budget.
“The district recognizes the need to manage within a fiscally strained public sector environment” notes the Secretary-Treasurer. “While some reductions in spending have been made over the past few years, the Board has been intentional about keeping permanent reductions away from classrooms and has required us to look for opportunities to find efficiencies and in other areas of expenditure. We believe that we are on track to further generate the necessary efficiencies.”
Boards of Education must approve their annual budgets by June 30th of each year. The fiscal year for school districts runs from July 1st to June 30th of the following year.