There were a lot of happy faces on the faces of Okanagan Skaha School District trustees at a special meeting Monday night.
Increased enrolment and unplanned-for disbursements from the Ministry of Education meant that the school district was not only able to balance its 2016-17 budget, but actually finalize the $65 million document with a small, $790, surplus.
Secretary-Treasurer Bonnie Roller Routley said an increase of about 25 full-time equivalent students pushed the district out of funding protection for the first time in 15 years.
“That’s good news. It has been a monkey on our back for a long time,” said board chair Linda van Alphen. Over the course of years of shrinking enrolment, funding protection helped provide a stable budget, but in recent years, the ministry changed its approach.
“Three years ago, the ministry started indicating we had to pay it back, 1.5 per cent at a time,” said Roller Routley. “It was coming to be $750,000 a year, over and above everything else you had to find.”
Roller Routley said the changes should be enough to give the school district some stability in next year’s budget process.
“Even if our enrolment flat-lines and comes in at the same number, we know we are not going back into funding protection,” said Roller Routley. “I think that is all good news for us.”