Province holds the line on per-student funding for school districts

Sooke board chair pleased with status quo, cautiously optimistic about future

With 572 more students enrolled in the Sooke School District this year than last, SD62 stands to receive roughly $4.13 million more in funding from the Ministry of Education.

The Sooke district, which includes the fast-growing West Shore, has seen the third-highest jump in enrolment in the province year over year, with only Surrey (993) and Langley (697) increasing more from 2015.

Education Minster Mike Bernier recently announced that a total of $46.7 million more would be provided to school districts across the province, as a result of higher enrolment numbers. The move will keep the per-student funding rate the same as it was to start the year, which in the Sooke School District works out to $7,218 per pupil. That consistency is expected to help districts with their budget planning for the 2017-18 school year.

SD62 board of education chair Bob Phillips, who in his many years as a trustee has seen a lot of “up-and-down” in funding levels from the various governments, is pleased that the Ministry of Education has “stabilized” district funding.

He pointed out, however, that such factors as pay raises for teachers or support staff that are written into long-term contracts, and the removal of busing revenue are not necessarily included in the per student funding model. As such, Phillips explained, subsequent years may find the district in financial dire straits, even if the per-student rate remains the same.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com