achool board 

By Amy Fendley The Howe Sound school district has been given more money this year but they’ve discovered there are more strings attached. School administrators and district staff have been working to figure out all the logistics that go hand-in-hand with the imposition of the Agreement in Committee last spring. The delays caused by the AIC and the time needed to learn and establish the new system led to a delay in the completion of the of 1998-99 district budgets. Provincial funding depends largely on the number of students enrolled during the current year, and even those projections have been slow in materializing. The province recently announced that the Howe Sound school district will receive more dollars per student in the 1999-2000 school year, as provincial per-student funding will increase from $5,849 to $5,992. Nancy Edwards, secretary treasurer of the Howe Sound School Board, said the ministry has been projecting enrolment increases of .7 per cent based on provincial projections, and that within the next two weeks administrators will start examining the budget. "Enrolment has gone down since September," says Edwards. "But that is quite common. The numbers usually go down during the year, particularly in a quarter system, when students leave for various reasons halfway through the year." Edwards says there have been a lot of changes in the budget since the AIC, in terms of how it is now calculated. She feels strongly that it won’t be an advantage to the school district. The outcome appears to be more money but less flexibility for school boards. In a press release, education minister Paul Ramsey said the new money will allow the Howe Sound school district to hire more teachers and continue to reduce class sizes in the critical early years of school. The adopted budget for this fiscal year shows the estimated revenues and expenditures balanced at $28.4 million. The additional funds included in this year’s budget however, could prove to be a negative. "Through the provincial Collective Agreement, we’ve received $473,000 in additional funding," says Edwards. "But $637,000 of that comes with strings attached. It has to be spent on teachers’ agreements. It’s $473,000 more than last year, but this says there is a negative because what we may have to address is .7 per cent enrolment growth. "We’re still in the process of analyzing this, but there are a number of changes to consider in calculating the funding and some of those will definitely not work in our favour." The negative side of the budget reveals that a number of programs will be capped, such as adult and career alternative programs. Whistler school trustee Andre Janyk says the board had to start thinking about enrolment projections and funding quite early on, and are fortunate to have held back some money. "We held some money back because we didn’t have the enrolment we thought we would," said Janyk. "We thought it (enrolment) would be increased, but enrolment was less than the minimum that we estimated so we were right in withholding the money. This year we saved ourselves an additional financial transaction. In capital funding, construction of a new Whistler elementary school is planned to commence in 2000. Howe Sound school district administrators are still working with the RMOW to determine an appropriate site within Intrawest’s proposed Spring Creek subdivision for the new Whistler Elementary. Intrawest announced last year it would donate a site for an elementary school. There are two development site options, both of them are approximately seven acres, located within the same 67 acre parcel of land north of Function Junction, on the east side of Highway 99. The first site butts up against the highway, while the second one is located further east, away from 99. "The final decision on the site will be made by council within the next couple of months," says Kim Needham, RMOW planner. "The first site has some constraints and it may be set aside for uses other than a school." The municipality is also looking for a site for a third elementary school.


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