SD5 passes $74.4M balanced budget, pushes province for more capital funding

SD5 passes $74.4M balanced budget, pushes province for more capital funding

Board of Education advocating for middle school in Fernie, major renovations to Mount Baker Secondary School

School District 5 Board of Education passed a $74.4 million balanced budget at a special meeting earlier in June.

However, while trustees passed a provincially mandated balanced budget, an additional ‘needs’ budget was also submitted to illustrate the growing challenges across the region.

“This ‘Needs Budget’ reflects the educational reality of District needs rather than the budgetary reality of government grants” said Frank Lento, the chair of the SD5 Board of Education. “We need government to recognize this reality and to work with Boards constructively to ensure a strong public education system.”

Lento added that the province must acknowledge the education funding challenges faced by districts across B.C.

“We will continue to provide a Needs Budget with our annual budget, and to present to the Select Standing Committee each year as long as there are unmet educational needs in our District.”

The SD5 board continues to advocate local issues to the provincial government, according to an SD5 press release.

Trustee Chris Johns recently made a presentation to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services during a meeting that solicits public input on the provincial budget. Feedback collected is compiled into a report outlining the concerns and funding requests made by individuals or organizations.

“Government is well aware that the K-12 system is experiencing cost pressures as a result of inflation (and aging school facilities), said Trustee Johns. “This information –along with a number of recommendations – continues to be provided to them in the Select Standing Committee’s annual budget reports.”

In last year’s SSCFGS report, a section was solely devoted to the challenges in SD5, noting overcapacity and excessive use of portables in Fernie, while also highlighting $400,000 in emergency repairs in the music and drama rooms at Mount Baker Secondary School to main structural integrity of the building.

During John’s presentation to the committee this year, he focused on advocating for a new middle school in Fernie, major renovations to MBSS and increasing special education funding across the district.

Fernie, which is growing at a rate of 18 per cent, is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. Isabella Dicken Elementary School will soon be using nine portables on site, and is projected to have 626 students enrolled for the next school year.

The board says is it currently working with the Ministry of Education to replace the portables through an expansion of the school building, a large 600-plus elementary school is ‘not practical’, which is why trustees are advocating for a middle school.

Fernie currently doesn’t have a middle school, as elementary schools feed into the city’s secondary school, which runs Grade 7 through to Grade 12.

While the board has been advocating for a replacement school for over a decade, a projected capital cost of up to $70 million for a new building has been a long-standing roadblock.

“We’ve been spending money, millions of dollars, in the school enhancement plan, carbon neutral programs, the capital bylaws, the annual facility grant.,” said Johns. “We’ve been using those moneys, taking that away from other buildings in our communities to make sure that this building is still suitable.”

“The replacement of a school the size of Mount Baker would be somewhere between $60 million and $70 million whereas a major renovation would be somewhere around $20 million to $30 million. So we’re now looking at renovation rather than replacement as a prudent measure to provide equal opportunities for learning throughout BC.”

Ensuring sufficient funding for special education is also another priority advocated by the board.

“We know that all students have unique educational needs,” says Lento. “But for approximately 13 per cent of our students, the funding we receive is insufficient to adequately support those needs.”

According to Johns, a portion of special needs funding was deregulated by the BC Liberals in 2001. Since then, the board has provided between five to six per cent in additional support out of the district’s Basic Allocation Fund.

Even though the Ministry has bumped up special needs funding by one per cent, SD5 will still need to take 6.4 per cent from the BAF — roughly $4 million — to meet the minimum needs for students with special needs.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton, the historians behind popular Facebook page Lost Kootenays, are set to release a book of the same name and have just unveiled its cover showing the ghostly Hotel in Slocan City shortly before its 1953 demolition. Photo courtesy of Greg Nesteroff and Eric Brighton.
Popular historical Facebook page Lost Kootenays set to release book

128-page hard copy documenting history of East and West Kootenays coming this fall

It happened this week in 1914

May 2 - 8: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

MBSS visual art students helped make the Cottage Restaurant’s protective barrier stand out for the summer. (Barry Coulter photo)
Artists give Cottage patio blocks a blast of colour

Mount Baker Secondary School visual art students gave the protective barrier at… Continue reading

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read