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‘Lingering aftermath’ of COVID will have impact on Surrey school district budget: Allen

Board passed the budget during the May meeting, with $8M capital budget shortfall
Surrey school district education centre, pictured April 13, 2022. The board of education passed its 2022-23 budget during the May 11, 2022 meeting. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

The Surrey Board of Education passed its 2022-23 budget, with an $8-million capital budget shortfall.

It’s a stark contrast from last year when the district was looking at a $40-million budget shortfall.

RELATED: ‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit, April 14, 2021

A release from the district notes $19 million from the prior year’s surpluses will be used to address shortfalls.

Meantime, the district is expecting a “gradual return of revenue streams that were halted during the pandemic, such as facilities rental income, and projects a modest increase in student growth, though revenue from international students may take several years to reach pre-pandemic levels.”

Each year, the district usually projects around 1,000 new students between elementary and secondary schools. But in April last year, former superintendent Jordan Tinney said elementary schools were down about 900 students while secondary schools were up about 50 students.

READ ALSO: Surrey school district student enrolment down from projections, Sept. 18, 2020

This year, however, the school district is projecting an increase of 102 staff positions “to meet student demand,” with 53 education assistants, 44 teachers, three support staff, one vice-principal and one other professional staff member.

The operating grant allocation will also be recalculated in the fall based on the actual student enrolment count, with “additional funding adjustments in February 2023 for any growth in students with special needs and new refugee enrolments.”

When introducing the budget, trustee Terry Allen said “while enrolment may improve next year, this growth is modest at best and can be significant influenced by any pandemic resurgence and resulting travel restrictions.”

The hope, he said, is a “return to a more stable academic and social experience for students” in the 2022-23 school year.

But the budget “does not come without some challenges,” noted Allen, who is also the board’s vice-chair and the chair of the finance committee.

“The lingering aftermath of the pandemic will no doubt have an impact on our operations,” he explained. “The rise in inflation on goods and services with no recognition of this in our ministry operating grants will mean that the district will have to absorb these costs from existing resources.”

The board passed the balanced operating budget during the May 11 meeting.

Two trustees, chair Laurie Larsen and Bob Holmes, declared conflicts and refrained from discussing or voting on the budget. Larsen has a daughter who is a teacher with the district, while Holmes’ wife is also a teacher at the district.

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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