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What A Difference A Couple Of Years Make For Quesnel School District Budget

School closures were being contemplated just a couple of years ago and last night Quesnel’s Board of Education adopted a Preliminary Operating Budget that Secretary-Treasurer Bettina Ketcham says added dollars back into the system.

Ketcham says this year’s shortfall of just over 287 thousand dollars to start off the process was also not nearly as substantial…

“We’ve had shortfalls in the past, anywhere from 700 thousand to a million dollars, so we’re actually quite pleased that the shortfall that we were trying to fund is not as significant. That’s mainly due to the fact that the per pupil funding from the Ministry of Education increased by a 122 dollars, so even though we were expecting a decline in student enrollment it helped to offset that decline.”

Ketcham says a savings of 115 thousand dollars by going from a one week spring break to two weeks for the coming year and less of a hit on funding protection than what was anticipated also helped.

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There was a cut of three teaching positions due to declining enrollment, but Ketcham says that was offset somewhat through what’s called a Classroom Enhancement Fund from the province…

“The Classroom Enhancement Fund is a special purpose grant provided by the Ministry of Education to fund the costs of returning classroom sizes to restore collective agreement language. That was a Supreme Court ruling made two years ago. So even though there will be a reduction of teaching staff from our operating budget, the 2.7 will be added back in terms of this special purpose grant, so the net reduction is actually quite minimal.”

Ketcham says there will be a reduction of 1.75 custodial positions because of the move from Quesnel Junior School to Maple Drive, but she says a custodial foreperson will then be added to add some supports for the evening and afternoon shifts.

Other additions in the budget include 2.4 additional education assistants, .5 additional resource teacher time, and an additional vice-principal time shared between schools.

The total budget, passed unanimously, is for $39,215,936.

In order to balance the budget, the following adjustments are planned:
1. Reduction in teaching staff (3.0 Full-Time Equivalent “FTE”) due to enrollment decline: $285,459
2. Reduction in custodial staffing (1.75 FTE) due to downsize of Quesnel Junior School: $ 99,453
3. Adjust technology budget to 2017 levels (removal of Student Learning Grant
one-time funding) $ 60,000
4. Miscellaneous supplies and other adjustments $ 74,754

Throughout the budget process, the following needs were identified by departments and
stakeholder groups for the following school year which will also be implemented:
1. Additional education assistants (2.4 FTE) $ 91,851
2. Additional resource teacher time (0.5 FTE) $ 43,232
3. Additional vice-principal time shared between schools $ 60,775
4. Custodial foreperson (net of anticipated savings of casual support staff wages) $ 44,855
5. Finance team system implementation support $ 13,847
6. Principals/Vice-principals, managers and district administrator staff wage adjustments $ 73,804

The District applied and was successful in receiving an additional $47,000 in Rural Education
Enhancement Funding for a 1.0 FTE Education Assistant, which funds the resources placed at both
Kersley and Parkland Elementary Schools.

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