School board smiling after pre-budget forum

School board smiling after pre-budget forum

School board chair Marieze Tarr says this is the first time in five years that the district doesn't have to dip into its surplus to cover a deficit. (Photo by Richard McGuire)

By Lyonel Doherty

This is the first time in five years that School Board No. 53 doesn’t have to dip into its surplus to cover any deficits.

That’s the “positive” report given by chair Marieze Tarr following a recent pre-budget learning forum in Oliver.

“There is no deficit this year, which is exciting,” Tarr said.

The board’s $25 million-plus budget shows a net revenue of $335,129. Of this, $333,500 will be transferred to the capital fund, leaving a surplus of $1,629.

In Tarr’s report, $410,000 in funding was approved to keep Osoyoos Secondary School open. And $2.55 million of the classroom enhancement fund will go towards implementing the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on better class size and composition in schools. This was the landmark victory that the BC Teachers’ Federation won last year.

Tarr said the transportation fund will see $209,000 used to provide extra field trips for students. For example, Grade 5 pupils from Oliver will be taken to McKinney Place extended care centre to interact with seniors once a week.

“It’s great that we can afford to take kids on field trips . . . it makes their learning more interesting,” Tarr said.

The chair reported that the district will receive $180,000 this year from the Okanagan Correctional Centre for supplying educational programming to inmates.

She also noted that a youth trades grant will see $172,000 spent over three years to improve shop equipment in district schools.

Tarr said despite the surplus this year, the board continues to reduce services and supplies to save money.