Victoria school board reinvests district surplus into educational assistants

Trustees unanimously agreed to use a $349,541 surplus from the 2011-12 school year to address class size and composition in 2012-13.

Save or spend?

In response to the outcry from teachers and parents for more classroom support, the Greater Victoria Board of Education uncharacteristically chose the latter.

On Tuesday trustees passed the district’s 2012-13 operating budget, after unanimously agreeing to use a $349,541 surplus from the 2011-12 school year to address class size and composition in 2012-13.

The extra funds will go toward hiring educational assistants and a psychologist to assist with the backlog of psychometric assessments for children up to Grade 3.

As well, they will fund the hiring of support staff to aid the speech and language pathologist, freeing up more time for therapy.

Fewer sick days, more savings than anticipated from energy conservation and more international student enrolment helped create the surplus.

“This is unusual,” board chair Peg Orcherton said of the extra funds. “It was quite delightful.”

Historically, the Greater Victoria School District has used any surplus funds from one year to help reduce the following year’s deficit. Longtime trustee Elaine Leonard, who was previously in favour of applying the surplus to the 2012-13 deficit, brought forward the motion to spend it.

“We are addressing, with the money that we have, the needs that come to us,” Orcherton said.

“We do listen, and that’s exactly why the motion that trustee Leonard had put on the table in February was amended.”

While the board was unanimous on how to spend the surplus funds, differing philosophies toward education advocacy nearly prevented the budget itself from being passed.

Had the document not passed, the surplus would have needed to be spent by the end of the 2011-12 year and would not have been applied to class size and composition.

Five of nine trustees – Orcherton, vice-chair Bev Horsman, Leonard, Michael McEvoy and Tom Ferris – supported the $171-million operating budget.

Trustees Deborah Nohr and Catherine Alpha voted against passing the balanced budget. Trustees Edith Loring-Kuhanga and Diane McNally, who had previously supported submitting only a needs-based budget to the Ministry of Education, abstained from voting on the final reading.

“Every one of us at that table would love to have more money,” she said. “But if (the balanced budget was not passed,) our community, our district, would likely lose its voice on how this district is run and we would have another level of bureaucracy that wouldn’t be willing to listen.”

McNally admitted it would have been a challenge to spend the surplus well by the end of the year. For her, the issue of chronic underfunding took precedent, she said.

“The platform I ran on was based on my convictions on the need to preserve public education and not to go along with planned underfunding from the government.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Needs-based budget explained

The school district prepares its operating budget early in the year to prepare staffing.

The final budget isn’t due into the Ministry of Education until June 30. It will be submitted along with a detailed needs budget.

The needs budget is a starting point and is subject to change, depending on how learning initiative funds and any additional grants are allocated.

The document currently identifies the need for about $48.5 million in additional funding in order to provide what board chair Peg Orcherton calls “absolute optimum” funding. The budget advisory committee presents the needs budget to the board for debate May 22.

The goal of preparing such a detailed breakdown of needs in the district – from staffing to supplies – is to strengthen the district’s argument for increased funding. In the past, the board has submitted a “restorative budget” document, based on 2001 operational costs and funding.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read