The Cariboo-Chilcotin School District will have less funding this school year due to a decrease in student enrollment.
The district anticipates a decrease of funding between $1.7 to $2.2 million, as 176 fewer students are enrolled this year.
Superintendent of Schools Chris van der Mark said that it wouldn’t affect services.
“We ran a considerable surplus in the spring of last year’s budget, and about $1.7 million of it was actually COVID related,” he said. “We didn’t run buses for a couple of months, we didn’t have the sick day call out, and that was a significant chunk of money. That was unused money from last year, so that’s what’s bridging the gap.”
“Generally, we don’t like using surpluses in that way, but this is a different landscape,” he continued. “We had the luxury of having that ability to do so, and so it’s helped.”
Enrolment for the 2020-21 year is estimated at a total of 4,415 full-time equivalent students, something van der Mark hopes will increase as students feel more comfortable heading back into classes.
“I think without the COVID landscape, we’d be higher because you wouldn’t have people homeschooling, you have people going to Distance Learning (DL). The DL still counts as enrollment, but it’s a different funding level,” he said. “I think we were able to plan for it in such a way that the implications certainly are fairly low; we are not cutting services, we’ve been able to provide stable employment.”
This year, 215 students enrolled in Distance Learning, more than the last two years combined (137).
van der Mark adds that if those students return to the classroom, the Ministry of Education does a review of enrollment in the spring, which could see the district see an increase in funding.