Abbotsford school district records $6 million surplus

Abbotsford board of education chairperson Cindy Schafer -
Abbotsford board of education chairperson Cindy Schafer
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Abbotsford schools will be the recipients of more than $3 million in funding for programs and services, after the district recorded a $6.1 million surplus in its 2010-11 budget.

The board of education announced the surplus at its regular public meeting on Monday night, when it released its financial report for the year ending June 30, 2011.

The report showed operating expenditures of $153.2 million compared to revenues of about $159.3 million.

Board chair Cindy Schafer said the extra funds are a welcome reversal of the situation in the 2009-10 school year, when a $6 million shortfall resulted in the elimination of more than 70 jobs, a $3.7 million reduction in allocation funding to schools, and a $2 million decrease in centralized departments.

The shortfall was due mainly to cuts in Ministry of Education funding. Schafer said the district went into a “serious pro-active mode” following that budget year in order to ensure possible further cuts wouldn’t be so drastic.

“We became a little more cautious and prudent,” she said.

School district treasurer Ray Velestuk said the belt-tightening was responsible for a good portion of this year’s surplus, as the district recorded $1.8 million in savings from department budgets and utilities.

Also contributing to the surplus was additional Ministry of Education per-student funding because of lower-than-anticipated enrolment across the province.

“The district is in a really good financial position,” Velestuk said.

The board of education has proposed that $3.35 million of the surplus be designated as follows:

– $1 million to local schools at a rate of $40 or $50 per student to be spent at the discretion of administrators;

– $300,000 for a two-year intervention project for elementary kids in high-vulnerability neighbourhoods;

– $1.5 million for implementation of the district’s strategic plan, which in part involves improving student access to programs and services, and use of technology;

– $150,000 for a two-year extension of the district’s English as a Second Language plan, which was cut in the 2009-10 budget; and

– $400,000 for a three-year plan to train teachers and other staff in using technology purchased for the district.

The rest of the surplus will remain in the budget as a cushion for future expenses.

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