Unspent money from 2010-11 has helped bail out the Surrey School District for the fall school year

Surrey School District dodges deficit

Money saved during 2010-11 helps district balance budget for the fall school year – but situation isn't sustainable, say trustees.

The Surrey Board of Education has managed to balance its budget for the upcoming school year, but trustees warn that while they “dodged a bullet” this year, that might not be the case in the future.

The Surrey School District was anticipating a shortfall of up to $10 million for the 2011-12 school year. However, money left over from the current year totalling about $7.1 million – saved by having spent less than expected on things such snow clearing, light and heat – helped bail the district out of a deficit situation.

While that’s good news today, said Trustee Terry Allen, the situation is one that’s unsustainable and leaves Surrey vulnerable.

“The use of one-time surplus funds to support ongoing expenditures does create financial challenges that will need to be addressed,” said Allen, chair of the budget committee.

Simply put, said board chair Laurae McNally, “In future years, that surplus may not be there, we don’t know. You can’t rely on it.”

McNally said without the savings found this year, there would definitely have been cuts to staff and/or programs this fall.

“We dodged the bullet this year – but you can’t count on dodging the bullet every year,” she said.

Another $3.7 million or so in savings was also found by reassigning resources and reducing various expenditures. Turning out lights and limiting paper has saved much-needed dollars, McNally said.

“They sound like petty little things but they do add up over time.”

Unlike most school districts in B.C., student enrolment continues to climb in Surrey. An estimated 70,360 full-time students are expected to attend local schools in September – an increase of more than 1,000 from this school year.

Surrey’s $570-million operating budget includes the hiring of about 55 more teachers and 35 educational assistants to cover the influx of new students.

By law, B.C. school boards are required to submit a balanced budget annually to the Ministry of Education.

The district has yet to receive any capital dollars from the province. It’s been six years since money was allocated to Surrey to build new school space, leaving thousands of students learning in the more than 230 portables littering local school grounds.

B.C.’s finance minister and Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon promised recently that a capital funding injection is imminent.

McNally says she’ll believe it when she sees it.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Just Posted

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

Surrey’s two largest hotels are now closed due to COVID-19; room bookings plummet elsewhere

Guildford’s 77-room Four Points property remains open with ‘minimum amount of business,’ GM says

Some Surrey landlords ‘kicking out’ businesses that can’t make rent

Surrey Board of Trade CEO suspects situation will be worse in May

UPDATE: Catalytic converters stolen from four ambulances being repaired in Delta

The thefts were reported on March 31, and police say they have no suspects at this time

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

COVID-19: Social media use goes up as country stays indoors

Overall messaging is up more than 50 per cent over the last month

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

Update: Coquihalla re-opens, after incident requiring a medevac

DriveBC warns of continued delays and congestion

Most Read