$1.2M Deficit in Books for Vernon School District – Vernon Morning Star

The Vernon School District spends more than it brings in.

The school district’s annual budget includes $120 million in expenditures. The budget provides everything the district needs to educate its 8,700 students, including homeroom and specialist teachers, teacher aides, bus drivers, and all the people, buildings, and infrastructure needed to support the education team.

But ahead of next school year, the district is short about $1.2 million, which will come from reserves.

“To put that amount into context, we spend approximately $600,000 for each instructional day in the school district,” the superintendent said. Christine Perkins said, adding it was too early to tell what impact any shortfall might have.

An increase in costs due to salary increases and inflation is also expected for next year.

“We spend more money than we earn, in revenue,” Secretary-Treasurer Adrian Johnson said.

The district hosted a public finance presentation on January 26 online, which was attended by approximately 25 people.

“The goal is transparency,” Johnson said. “I think we’re doing a good job in how we allocate our funding, obviously we can’t please everyone.”

The deficit represents approximately 1% of the annual budget.

“So it’s within the margin of error, but I’d rather be on the other side of the margin of error,” Johnson said.

The district does not expect significant revenues to change this and there will not be much left in the reserves for the following year.

The enrollment numbers will help the school board further determine upcoming funding, expected around March 15.

Schools have seen a few more pupils return this year, after a number went online when COVID-19 started 20 months ago.

The International Student Program has also been a success since the start of the pandemic.

“We didn’t expect students to even be able to land in the country,” Johnson said. “At that time, we thought we were going to take a loss.”

The federal and provincial governments stepped in to help the students, and Vernon ended up with about half the number of international students he normally saw – far more than he expected.

International students make up a large portion of the school district’s revenue – $5 million in tuition. After fees, the district earns about $600,000.

Parents, students, staff and community members are invited to have their say on the future of schools by contributing to the strategic plan on sd22.bc.ca until February 4.

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About Stuart M. McFarland

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