As we return from spring break, a lot of our energies are focussed on implementing plans for the final term, and planning ahead for next year. This look ahead includes developing a preliminary budget for the Board to approve in May.
Earlier this year we engaged with all of you – students, teachers, administrators, support staff and parents – to determine where our priorities should be as we work through the budget process. You can find all of this information, along with your feedback on the Annual Budget 2015/16.
As we reviewed the submissions, a few themes emerged, and I’d like to briefly describe those for you here. One theme that recurred was the need to support our staff with the new curriculum that is being finalized by the Ministry. The work we do in this area will ensure that our students get a relevant and engaging learning experience as we transition to the new curriculum. We also need to continue our support for modernizing our classrooms, by investing in technology and pursuing other modifications that reflect the changing classroom. Finally, we have learned that our stakeholders value support for specialty positions, including additional learning support, counselling and teacher-librarians.
You may have noticed recent news coverage around school district budgets; provincially, it has certainly been a challenging year in education. School districts have been directed by the Ministry to find $29 Million in administrative savings; West Vancouver’s share of these savings is around $333,000, and we will have to find additional savings in 2016-17.
It should be noted that all districts have worked hard to lower administrative costs over the past several years, and Trustees from around the province have shared their concerns publicly. In West Vancouver, we have done our best to keep reductions well away from the classroom, and continue to advocate for better education funding.
Less than four percent of our budget is spent on administration. This hasn’t been easy, but we are confident that we will be able to recommend a budget to the Board that ensures all programs and services we offer this year will continue next year. We have had strong local and international enrolment this year, and should be able to buffer the funding challenge using our contingency funds.
Later this month, our Trustees will be discussing the budget and the recent announcements from the Ministry of Education, and will likely be making more public comments at that time.
The third term is my favourite part of the year, with all of the excitement that comes with the June rituals and celebrations. I look forward to seeing many of you over the next few months as we close the school year and plan for the next. We are working hard to ensure that the quality programs and services you have come to expect in West Vancouver will continue well into the future.
Superintendent of Schools