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Surrey Board of Education passes balanced budget for 2022-23 school year

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The Surrey Board of Education has passed a balanced operating budget for the 2022-23 school year, with the allocation of $19 million from prior year surpluses to address shortfalls.

Approved at the May board meeting, the budget also includes an $8 million capital budget shortfall due to a timing difference of revenue recognition and amortization expense. The budget outlines an expected gradual return of revenue streams that were halted during the pandemic, such as facilities rental income, and projects a modest increase in student growth, though revenue from international students may take several years to reach pre-pandemic levels.

“As we move towards a new phase of this pandemic, we look forward to hopefully returning to a more typical school year for the fall of 2022,” said trustee Terry Allen, who serves as Chair of the Finance Committee. “We will work to fulfill our vision for Learning by Design, with a focus on learning and engagement, and a continued commitment to equity and truth and reconciliation.”

The report lists a number of risk factors that may influence the district’s financial stability, including:

  • COVID-19 uncertainties and potential impacts,
  • Provincial bargaining and potential collective agreement changes,
  • Grant funding uncertainties and possible funding model review,
  • Enrolment uncertainties,
  • Inflation and cost pressures, including supply chain issues and government policy changes,
  • Recruitment and retention challenges,
  • Capital project contribution costs,
  • Efficiency needs and modernization of business systems.

Additionally, the Ministry of Education operating grants, announced in March 2022, saw incremental funding for projected enrolment growth, with no funding provided for inflation or other non-union employee group wage increases.

“While we are hopeful that the 2022-2023 school year will be a return to a more stable academic and social experience for students, the budget for the school year does come with some challenges,” said Allen. “The lingering aftermath of the pandemic will no doubt have an impact on our operations. The sudden rise of inflation on goods and services, with no recognition of this in our Ministry operating grants will mean that the district will have to absorb these costs from existing resources.”

The board report noted that operating grant allocation will be recalculated in the fall, based on the actual student enrolment count on Sept. 29, 2022, with additional funding adjustments in February 2023 for any growth in students with special needs and new refugee enrolments.

For operating expenditures, the budget projected an increase of 102 staff positions to meet student demand, including 53 education assistants, 44 teachers, three support staff, one vice-principal and one other professional staff member.

Overall, the board expressed a positive outlook toward the next school year and the district’s ability to provide quality education to students in Surrey and White Rock despite financial challenges impacting the budget.

“As Finance Chair, I feel that this budget continues to allow us to ensure the safety of our staff and students and keep our priorities where they should be – students and their learning,” said Allen. “I have great confidence that the district will continue to provide exceptional education to our students.”

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