Brandon School Division is looking at a $90-million “status quo” budget for the 2014-15 school year.
The BSD board held a special meeting Monday night where trustees looked at a very preliminary budget plan.
“It’s way, way early in the process,” board chair Mark Sefton said. “What we do know is that as of now, we have what we’re calling a … ‘hold-the-line’ budget.”
Typically at this time of year there are many budget enhancements and requests coming forward. Last year, there were more than 30 requests for additions. This year, as Sefton says, there is a “grand total of zero requests.” “Our staffing projections as of now … for next year are exactly the same as for this year,” Sefton said. “We’re trying to hold the line on staffing, we’re not adding any new programs and we’re not adding to any existing programs.”
Even though the division is keeping the budget “status quo,” it will still require an additional $3.6 million, due to inflation, PST increase on supplies/services, enrolment growth, salary provisions, staff benefits, etc.
“They go up because, of course you’ve got collective agreement settlements with various groups, you’ve got increasing sick leave costs, you’ve got increasing supplier costs,” Sefton said. Sefton said the division is “taking a pause.”
“We want to step back and analyze, and just make sure the things we’ve added in the last few years are having the desired impact for students’ learning,” he said. “We’ve heard the taxpayers are frustrated, not feeling good about the way things have gone, so we’re trying to have an impact there, too.” How this will impact the taxpayer is not yet known, as Brandon School Division is waiting on its provincial funding announcement as well as assessment information from surrounding municipalities.
The funding announcement is expected to come Jan. 30 or 31, following the Arthur-Virden byelection.
“What’s different this year is we don’t have the assessment data, so that’s a big puzzle for us,” Sefton said. “Usually by now we’ve got the assessment data from the city and all the municipalities that are included.”
The public budget forum will take place Feb.12 at 7 p.m. at École Harrison. Trustees will meet on Feb. 18 for the all-day budget meeting.