School District #27 (SD27) trustees have requested permission to under spend its budget for aboriginal education by $109,206, but this isn’t unusual.
SD27 chair Tanya Guenther says it not uncommon to have more in the province’s targeted school board funding than can be used in the program.
“It’s usually about that same amount [of under spent money], or between $80,000 and $100,000 if we look back over the past number of years.”
This also happens fairly regularly in various other programs with targeted funding, she explains.
Guenther notes under spent money in its general operating fund stays in the budget and shows as a surplus for the year, but targeted funding requires permission to under spend from the Ministry of Education.
“As soon as we send the letter, then it gets turned around and we are able to make sure it gets utilized in the current year with other projects and things of that nature.”
The challenge for using the full funding in delivering its aboriginal education, which is also laid out in the letter to Education Minister Mike Bernier, is the difficulty in finding qualified staff willing to work in isolated locations, she says.
“Between 80 and 90 per cent of our budget is tied up in staffing. So what happens is we might have staff members who are away who we are not able to replace. Quite often that is a lot of what the under spent funds are at the end of the year.”
The school board chair notes she does not get a sense that this is a big issue of concern to the trustees, as it is a typical occurrence.
“It is an ongoing challenge, not something new, and not something that is just regarding the targeted funding.”
Meanwhile, the trustees are generally satisfied with the aboriginal education SD27 delivers now, Guenther adds.