Back in June, under the new funding formula from the Ministry of Education, School District 59’s transportation funding was reduced by $750,000. This is a 23 percent reduction to the $3.3 million they had been receiving. The reduction will be phased in over a three-year term.
Due to these cuts, the school district began a review of its transportation services in order to focus on identifying opportunities to improve the services and where to make cuts. The review has already gone through three of the four phases, however just recently it was decided the forth phase would not be a go.
Phase four was to hold a referendum in October of 2014 to raise the funding shortfall through local rural taxation. School District 59 Trustee Sherry Berringer says, “There was a discussion Oct. 9 at the round table about the referendum. This will not be a motion or final decision until Oct. 23, but we will probably not go ahead with the referendum,” she continues, “The school board will actually be in surplus for the next couple of years, and that should sound strange to you because our enrollment is declining, however, the Ministry of Educations policy is that no school district should get anything less than 1.5 percent of its budget, so if we have a decline of four percent enrollment, then we are actually getting 2.5 percent more money.”
According to stats experts, people aren’t having as many kids and everywhere across the district, enrollment is declining.
Though it is ok for now, Berringer says this is not going to be good down the road. At this point she says, “It would be ludicrous to ask the public for money.”
The experts predict the school district’s enrollment is going to level out in 2015, and that is when they are going to start being in trouble with transportation.
“In all probability, we are not making any more changes to transportation until 2014. Phase four is not going to happen and we’ll be looking at it in the 2014–2015 year to decide 2015–2016 year what other things will be done to offset the funding we won’t get in those years,” explains Berringer.
Councillor Caisley asks, “The bottom line question is what effect will this have on TR specifically?”
Berringer responds, “We have no bussing so it is not going to effect us at all. Our budget will stay the same.”