The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district could face a $6 million shortfall next year.
With increasing cost pressures and indications coming from the Ministry of Education that there will be no increase in funding, the school district is going to survey the public on how on their priorities and thoughts on the revenues and expenditures.
The decline in enrolment, salary and benefit increases, and the return to the Provincial Sales Tax could mean that the school district will have to find $6 million in savings.
That is a “worst-case scenario,” said board chair Mike Murray, and a “conservatively high number” as they haven’t heard anything definitive from the ministry about next year’s funding.
Murray said his impression after a year and a half on the board of education is that “things are pretty lean.”
“It’s a pretty efficient organization already,” he added.
Teachers are currently in contract negotiations with the province and Murray expects there will be some wage increases for teachers. That, along with inflation on supplies and services and increased pension payments add to the budget pressure.
“Those are things the government should be consistently providing additional funding for,” Murray said.
The school district is required to submit a balanced budget to the ministry, and it is early in the budget process, Murray pointed out. But, he and his trustee colleagues wanted to get the word out that they want input from the public as they potentially face cutting the budget.
“We don’t want to panic anybody... but there could be a serious problem,” Murray said.
The survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/201314BudgetSurvey.