Monday, September 07, 2009

Budgets, Bluster and Backsliding

As Prince Rupert’s school children prepare for that first day of class on Tuesday, they will no doubt be reminded to bring lots of sharp pencils and a few pens, as a new school year begins for School district 52 the same could be said for trustees and district managers, sharp pencils to revise their plans and perhaps some red ink to deal with some potential funding reversals from the provincial government.

While the children learn their three R’s, school administrators will have to learn about the three B’s, three terms apparently key to this years school term, budgets, bluster and backsliding…

With an announcement of a new Secretary Treasurer just posted to their website, they are no doubt hopeful that Cameron McIntyre will be able to divine where if required, they can allocate existing monies to make up for some setbacks in previously anticipated facilities grants.

The Provincial government has spread the word across province that last years funding allocations won’t be delivered this school year, from Vancouver Island where the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District faces a facilities shortfall of nearly 1.5 million dollars, in Kamloops-Thompson where they've now come up short by 2.2 million and over to Prince George where the claw back could be as high as 4 million dollars and almost everywhere in between the government is taking away what was once on the way.
None of those reductions were announced until late August, a process that seems to be rather pointless not to mention short sighted, considering most of that kind of work would best be done during the summer, may very well have been done by now and will require the re-allocation of money from school district budgets to pay those piling up bills.

There is no word yet on what reduction if any that the Prince Rupert School District may be facing in their facilities budget, or how it may impact on our local schools. But considering the dramatic events of the last school year, the last thing that they need to start off the new one is yet another problem to deal with.

It will be interesting to hear if we have to redefine our plans in SD52 yet again, and how those plans may have to change to reflect yet a new guideline and a reduction in funding.

For the District and its administrators, trustees, principals and teachers, the first day of school may seem very familiar as how those last few days came to an end.

The Prince George District is giving some serious consideration to going through the courts to reclaim their missing funding, it may be a process that finds some common currency across the province as each district tries to come to terms with what is ahead for each area of the province.

One thing seems certain, the province's plan to backslide on their previously declared intentions doesn't appear to be a process that is going to just be accepted without a discussion, or perhaps even more strenuous efforts.
Update: On Monday the Northern View posted to their website details on how the facilities funding clawbacks will affect SD 52, the main thrust of the shortfall of some 644,908 dollars is that it will be recommended that all capital projects be cancelled, with only items of importance towards health and safety be given the green light to go ahead (see the Northern View's story here)

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