A small group of 10 residents shared their concerns about the Brandon School Division’s 2013-14 budget plan with trustees during a taxpayers meeting on Tuesday.
"Nobody showed up last year, there were only two people the year before and last night, we had 10 people," said board chair Mark Sefton. "Ten is still a pretty small number, but we were certainly pleased with the people that did come out."
Those in attendance were concerned about busing conditions to Alexander School and questioned how the school board plans to accommodate the growing English as an Additional Language student population.
"Brandon is growing rapidly," Sefton said. "Over 200 new students who are new to Canada and new to the English language have joined our schools since September."
Sefton added that some parents are concerned that with a growing population, comes crowded classrooms, something that could potentially affect the school division budget.
But one issue Sefton said he was surprised wasn’t brought up was safety within Brandon schools.
"I think people are looking at this from a more local perspective rather than globally," he said. "I thought we might hear about safety due to recent events, but I think people had other concerns that were top of mind and more community focused on Brandon."
Last year’s budget tapped out at around $78 million, but with the recent welcoming of more than 200 new students, this budget will have to change, Sefton said.
"Every new student comes with a cost of around $10,000," he said.
With that in mind, Sefton predicts this year’s budget will hover around $80 million, and will have to bare the weight of the roughly 9,000 students and employees within the school division.
Senior administration will be presenting the school board with the first draft of the proposed budget on Jan. 21. Another public consultation will then be held at Earl Oxford School on Feb. 6, giving taxpayers an opportunity to share their concerns with the board.
The division’s all-day budget deliberations will be held on Feb. 19, followed by a public presentation on March 4 before final voting for the budget takes place on March 11.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 10, 2013