Province claws back SD43 surplus

Administrative savings directive to eat up $1.5 million of hold back money this year with more savings needed for 2016/17

Easy come, easy go.

That may be the attitude School District 43 will have to take as the province claws back $1.5 million from this school year's surplus to cover off a requirement to find "administrative savings," money the district had hoped to use for the classroom, trustees say.

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On Tuesday, SD43's board of education unanimously approved an administrative savings plan that will allow the government to reduce the district's funding by $4.4 million in total over the next two years.

"These were funds the board was hoping to allocate and it's been removed from us," said Coquitlam Trustee Barb Hobson.

The board was told the province's directive to find administrative savings equivalent to .05% of education expenditures in 2015/’16 and 1% in 2016/’17 was intended to find efficiencies. But secretary treasurer Mark Ferrari said the district already saves money with bulk purchasing agreements with other school districts and pooling legal resources, as suggested by the province, will be "marginal."

"We don't think we'll be generating nearly enough [in savings]," Ferrari said.

As a result, the district will put $1.5 million in funds saved from a holdback, received after the district's enrolment figures were finalized, into the savings plan and will use a combination of savings and additional revenue to cough up another $2.9 million the following year. A significant portion, $1.3 million, will come from increased fees foreign students will pay.

As well, the district hopes to save money on energy costs and generate additional revenue from rental and investment income.

Starting in 2016/’17, foreign students will pay $14,000 a year to attend SD43 schools, up from $13,000. Despite the planned increase, the district continues to expect robust enrolment from students from other countries.

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