Now is the time to engage with the Abbotsford School District on its budget.
District staff and the board of education are in the first stages of the budget process for the next school year, and have launched an online engagement portal for the public. The website includes a brief video explaining school district budgets and a timeline until the budget is approved in June.
That portal will also include ways to offer feedback regarding the budget, and have questions answered by staff. The website is engage.abbyschools.ca
The district has other ways to engage as well. The first of two public budget information meetings was held on March 9 and the second one will be held on May 5, at which point public consultation closes.
The public budget presentation for the Abbotsford School District includes a pie chart that illustrates how one dollar would be spent when split between costs.
The bulk of the budget, at 59 cents, is on teachers, with 7 cents on principals and vice principals, 11 cents on education assistants, 3 cents on support staff and 3 cents on administration.
That leaves 6 cents for school supplies and equipment, 10 cents for building operations and 2 cents for transportation.
It’s just one way Ray Velestuk, the district’s secretary-treasurer and chief financial officer, has broken down the budget for the public. The video of the meeting is now available to watch via the district’s YouTube channel.
“A key pillar of our strategic plan highlights a need to provide engaging opportunities for all students, families and stakeholders involved in the school district,” the engage website states. “As you share your voice and help shape our work for student success, we’ll be listening and watching.”
The budget will also be discussed at regular board meetings between now and June, and those meetings are accessible to watch on YouTube.
“Over the next two and a half months we’re going to be engaged in a deep study of what we learned last year and how we can take those lessons that we’ve learned and apply them to improve the quality of the student experience,” Superintendent Kevin Godden said at the March 8 regular board meeting.
The current budget has an operating deficit of just under $2 million, but that will be updated over spring break and come to about $1.5 million.
One of the places the district is seeing savings, against past years and in comparison to the provincial average, is in utility costs. That’s the direct result of several project in the early 2000s, Velestuk explained, some in partnership with BC Hydro.
“We’ve really reaped the benefits of that,” he said.
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