Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk addresses a crowd assembled for a forum on school security. Abbotsford News file photo

Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk addresses a crowd assembled for a forum on school security. Abbotsford News file photo

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Abbotsford School District expects extra $4.5M from ministry next year

Increase comes mostly from increases in funding rates and enrolment for ‘unique student needs’

The Abbotsford School District anticipates $4.5-million increase in the operating grant from the Ministry of Education for the 2019-20 school year.

The majority of that increase is expected to come from increases to “unique student needs,” which includes Indigenous students, vulnerable students, English as a second language and special needs education, according to a report package recently submitted to school board.

The increase, totalling nearly $2.6 million, comes from enrolment and funding level increases in ESL ($300,000), Indigenous education ($500,000) and special education ($1.6 million).

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Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk noted that the funding rate for Aboriginal education and for all three classifications of special education influenced those increases.

“Those enrolments in special ed have increased a little bit, but not to the extent that would drive a $1.6-million change in total funding,” Velestuk said.

On top of that, the district anticipates an increase of about 120 full-time equivalent students next school year, adding nearly $1.8 million to the school’s budget.

The projected enrolment for 2019-20 is just over 19,750 students, bringing a total of $147.3 million in enrolment-based funding from the B.C. Ministry of Education. By comparison, the 2018-19 school year saw just over 19,600 students, with funding of $145.5 million as of January 2019.

“Enrolment is still increasing across the district,” said secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk. “We look at that longer-term of enrolment and that line is [a] fairly steady increase going up. So capacity issues, again, in the district are of concern to us.”

In total, ministry funding is expected to reach nearly $182.1 million, compared with around $177 million for the current school year.

Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk said the school district anticipates that any change in actual enrolment by Sept. 30 will be covered by the ministry, as will any costs related to implementing the 2001 language from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation collective agreement with the ministry regarding class sizes, among other issues.

The budget also does not include any adjustment for inflation, but do factor in the final salary increases of the current collective agreement, which are set to come into effect in May. The school district and Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association are currently negotiating a new collective agreement, which may affect future pay structures.

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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