SD20 brings public into the budgeting process

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
February 2nd, 2011

The public got to hear about the potential projects School District 20 has received submissions for funding for next year’s budget this past Monday night at J.L. Crowe. Those that attended will now have the opportunity to be players in the overall task the School Board has of developing the 2011-2012 school year budget.

The eight month process of setting the following school year’s budget got started in May with the first meeting of the budget committee. From there the committee set out to get feedback from all stakeholders in the budget process.
“What we did was ask the community, including the public, schools, parents, employees etc to give us their ideas for priorities in the budget,” explained Kim Morris of SD20. “We received them, collated them and presented them to the public on Jan 31st.”
In total 86 funding requests came in with 79 ultimately accepted. The total value of this funding was $3,526,158.
Submissions ranged from big ticket items such as having Education Assistants staffed at six hours a day in all 17 full day kindergarten classrooms in the district at an estimated cost $586,000/year to smaller items such as the $500 requested to install basketball hoops on the RSS school grounds.
Attendees at the meeting were set up to access a Survey Monkey survey to log in and prioritize the 79 potential projects. That public engagement is one way of several that the district will ultimately decided which projects get funded and for how much.
“We went out to the public to get consultation and input,” added Morris. “We called it a toe in the water. It was a feeler to see what we need to know and how the public feels.”
Moving forward, the district will gauge its enrollment projections for next year when kindergarten registration closes on February 18th. Following that the district will await the funding announcement from the province for the following school year on March 25th. Those two announcements will provide a good estimate of the actual dollar figure the district will have to work with. They will then meet on March 31st to draft a preliminary budget based on input, feedback and prioritizing received from teachers, principals, staff and the public. That draft will be presented back to the public on April 4th along with the results of the survey ranking and input will be sought again before finalizing the budget and having it approved by the school board.
A full list of the submitted projects can be seen in the attached file.
Also in SD20 news this week, the public consultation meetings on the Planning for the Future process, cancelled before Christmas in the wake of unrest, divide and heated rhetoric, have been rescheduled.
One of the primary reasons given by board Chair Gord Smith for the board voting to delay the planned January and February meetings was to re-frame the discussion. Late in the Planning for the Future’s second report process, the Ministry of Education sent notice of a new initiative and direction the province wants to begin moving in titled 21st Century Learning.
The 21st Century Learning concept is intended to utilize emerging technologies to allow students to apply knowledge to new situations, analyze information, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions. The concept which will utilize technology solutions to provide expanded learning opportunities could have a significant impact in rural BC and smaller schools.
Chair Gord Smith had not returned The Telegraph’s calls by press time.
The newly scheduled community focus groups are scheduled as follows:

Castlegar Area
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
6:30-9:30 pm
Stanley Humphries Secondary School Gymnasium

Rossland Area
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
6:30-9:30 pm
Rossland Secondary School Gymnasium

Trail Area
Thursday, March 3, 2011
6:30-9:30 pm
JL Crowe Secondary School Gymnasium

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