Delta school district facing $3m shortfall

DELTA — Delta school district is facing another round of cuts despite a projected increase in enrollment.

On Friday, the district was scheduled to release the proposed 2014/15 operating budget, which projects a $3.28-million shortfall.

For the first time in many years, the district is actually projecting there will be more students in the system come September, although that increase is expected to be modest at between 25 and 50. After years of decline, the district currently has about 15,200 students.

The district will still be in the red due to a number of factors, including increased salaries and employee benefits, higher utility costs and the carrying forward of a $1.36 million shortfall from 2013/14.

To make up for the deficit, the school board proposes $1.78 million in cuts, including eliminating more than 10 full-time teaching positions. Reductions are also proposed for English language assistance and support for students with special needs. Other proposed cuts include reducing onetrades position, non-school clerical staff and just over $84,000 in non-salaried school board administration costs.

Due to provincial cuts, the school district last year eliminated its busing program for rural areas, although the service was maintained for special-needs students. A further $200,000 cut this year won’t eliminate service for those students but it will mean fewer buses and longer rides to school.

The district is also looking for increased revenue from its International Student Program to help balance the books.

Meanwhile, the school district has $14 million in surplus funds, but notes that money is an “internally restricted surplus” reserve earmarked for educational purposes such as district-wide technology upgrades, early learning, aboriginal programs, equipment and desks.

The district is taking $1.5 million from its surplus as “onetime” funding to help balance the budget.

A public input meeting on the proposed budget will take place at the school board’s administration offices in Ladner on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Twitter @gyarmatisandor

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