Dale Bass – Kamloops This Week
Although the warning prompted one trustee to criticize how education is funded, the Kamloops Thompson school board treasurer isn’t concerned the district’s operating fund is in jeopardy.
Mario Piroddi of accounting firm BDO Canada presented the draft audited statement to the board last week. He highlighted its operating fund, which has gone from $7.25 million to $5.1 million as the board has dipped into it to keep its budget balanced, as it is legislated to do. Piroddi suggested the possibility the fund would only last another 2.5 years, which prompted trustee Joan Cowden to point out the board’s frustration in providing education when funding is unstable.
School District 73 treasurer Kelvin Stretch, however, isn’t concerned. Historically, the board has not had to rely on the fund as much as it did in the last school year, when the Ministry of Education did not release money it traditionally holds back to provide to districts during the school year.
Instead, the money was allocated to be used this school year as the government deals with new students who registered last year and who were not anticipated in the ministry’s education budget last year.
“It was an unusual year, with the province seeing an increase of 4,600 students, the first time in about 19 years that has happened,” Stretch said of the 2015-2016 school year.
Stretch said he’s also confident in the financial stability of the district because it has always met the balanced budget requirement and has adequate reserves.
This year has seen an increase in enrolment, particularly at the kindergarten level, with 115 students not anticipated.
“That’s a positive thing, it’s huge,” Stretch said. “If they stay through K to [Grade] 12, then our numbers will be strong in coming years.”