The Prince George School District is facing a nearly $4.4 million operating deficit in the current school year.
Although the district’s revenue increased by $62,000, wages and operating expenses increase by over $2.2 million.
Currently the shortfall is slated to come from reserves created by previous years’ surpluses. However, that will leave no reserves for the 2009-10 budget to draw on.
“I was questioning where we go from here,” district chairman Lyn Hall said.
Hall said the district could be facing serious cutbacks if funding for the district isn’t increased to reflect rising wages and operating costs.
District secretary-treasurer Brian Mix said until the district receives their final funding numbers from the provincial government on March 13, it is too early to take any action.
“We’re heard the minister say no district will get less money than last year,” Mix said. “We’ve heard the minister say they will protect education.”
Mix said the district finance committee will discuss the issue on March 30, and report to the board at their April meeting.
Trustee Roxanne Ricard said the district will be challenged to meet its commitment to develop an aboriginal choice school at Carney Hill Elementary school for the 2010 school year.
“When we are looking at promoting student achievement… I think it’s important to look at where our assets can be used to improve achievement for all students,” Ricard said.
Trustee Lois Boone said it’s time for the Ministry of Education to match policy with funding.
The ministry has not increased funding for transportation since 2001, she said. Bus service to allow aboriginal students throughout Prince George to attend will be a key piece of the aboriginal choice school.
“The ministry is challenging us all the time to improve aboriginal performance,” Boone said. “It’s time to say, Put your money where your mouth is.'”