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‘Facing a deficit’: SD61 hosting public input session for next budget

Registration to attend the March 7 session must be made in advance
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The Greater Victoria School District is hosting a public budget input session March 7 as it prepares to approve the budget for the 2023-2024 school year in April. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Greater Victoria School District is hosting a public budget meeting on March 7 and the public is invited to provide their thoughts on priorities for the 2023/24 school year.

The superintendent and secretary-treasurer will provide further details on budgetary considerations and ways to advance student success as part of the meeting, allowing participants to learn more about how the district allocates resources, emerging needs requiring investment including those identified in SD61’s strategic plan.

“Our board is facing a deficit budget again this year, which comes with some very challenging decisions,” said board chair Nicole Duncan in a news release. “It is important we inform our community about these budget shortfalls and provide an opportunity to foster a meaningful dialogue about how we can allocate or possibly reallocate resources to best support students. We must also ensure that we review the budget through an equitable lens, focused on working together to support the needs of all learners.”

The district is estimating a $4-million structural deficit as it budgets for the upcoming school year. The pandemic, static enrolment, and inflation have all been contributing factors to the shortfall, the district said.

If spending patterns continue, the district said it does not anticipate having unrestricted surplus available at the end of 2022-2023 school year to help offset this deficit, requiring it to find efficiencies and savings in order to develop and approve a balanced budget by early April.

A budget advisory committee was assembled in October 2022 and has been convening to review the operating budget to develop recommendations for the board of education.

The committee is composed of trustees, senior staff, school-based administration, the Four Houses (Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, Urban Peoples’ House Indigenous Advisory, and the Metis Nation of Greater Victoria), and representatives from the Greater Victoria Teachers Association, CUPE Local 947, CUPE Local 382, Allied Specialists Association, and the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Council.

For more information about the work of the committee leading up to the public meeting, visit sd61.bc.ca/our-district/financial.

Those looking to participate in the input session must register in advance by contacting cmanders@sd61.bc.ca now later than March 6 at 4 p.m. It is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Uplands Campus on March 7.

For those unable to attend, the presentation and supporting documentation will be posted on the district’s website. Following the meeting, feedback is invited through written submissions to community@sd61.bc.ca until March 17.

READ MORE: SD61 boots Saanich child-care centre after 32 years


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