Langley’s Board of Education was able to deliver some good news to Education Minister George Abbott when he toured Langley schools last Wednesday.
At a lunch with Abbott, held at Walnut Grove Secondary, the board told him that the School District’s $13.5 million deficit could be paid off by next year.
“Most of the deficit could be paid down by June 2013,” said David Green, Langley School District secretary-treasurer, when presenting the annual budget to the board in late February. That’s two years ahead of schedule.
“We could pay down $5 million of the deficit [this year].”
The remaining deficit is $5 million and could be paid off in 2012/2013.
But to continue to pay down that much requires meeting with all the stakeholders at the same time to make sure everyone agrees on how to retire the deficit early, said Green.
The board approved the 2011-2012 budget in the amount of $160,265,421.
The province requires the district to find at least $3.375 million surplus every year to pay down the $13.5 million deficit that was run up during several years of overspending.
A new resource allocation model has worked well to find extra savings and there were more student enrolement than predicted.
In a meeting with district staff last fall, the Ministry of Education made it clear that it would like to see the deficit paid down sooner than the given timeline, said Green.
In his report, he indicated that paying down the deficit should be the priority over adding staff and services.
“Once we get there, we can reinvest into our classrooms,” said Green.
Trustee Rod Ross warned that Langley, much like other school districts, relies too heavily on revenue from international students.
“We are addicted to international student revenue,” Ross said.
He wants Langley to do as Delta does and wait until the actual numbers of how many international students arrive instead of trying to predict how many enrol each year.
“We are living in our overdraft. We spend it before the money actually comes in.”