YARMOUTH, N.S. – Although months later than usual, the Tri-County Regional School Board has approved its budget for the current fiscal year.
The budget was approved at the board’s September monthly meeting. The delay in approving this year’s budget came about because the province was later in passing through its budget, given a spring election.
The balanced budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year sees $83,546,679 in expenses, with salaries (teachers, schools and board office staff) accounting for the greatest chunk.
In presenting the budget for approval at the board’s monthly meeting, Genna LeBlanc, the board’s coorindator of finances, says this year’s budget had not been as difficult or controversial in past years, given in the spring the board had already approved more teachers within its system.
The Tri-County Regional School Board approved an addition 16 full-time equivalent NSTU teaching positions for the 2017-2018 school year in May. Eight of these positions were a result of the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions, which had recommended hiring 139 teachers across the province for this school year.
LeBlanc said the board was fortunate in that it did not have to make reductions in other areas to account for these additional positions.
The board has seen a steep decline in student enrollment, therefore a student enrollment supplement has also kicked in for the board.
The board has received $1.3 million in targeted funding from the province as well, for initiatives that are mandated by the province. Because this provincial funding is restricted to certain areas, the board was able to reallocate some of its funding elsewhere.
Deferred maintenance is still an issue for the school board, as priorities have caused it, over the years, to spend money in areas other then upkeep and maintenance of school buildings. But LeBlanc said with this budget they have been able to put some money back into this budget area.
This budget has been worked on since last spring. One item that came about after budget talks had started was the pre-primary initiative that the government put in place this fall, as it rolled out phase one of the program. Pre-primary had been an election pledge the Liberals had made.
There are six pre-primary sites in the Tri-County board. The overall cost of the program this year to the board is $580,000, which includes salaries, benefits, supplies, material and telecommunications.
Another area the board was also to increase was TAs (teacher assistants). There was an increase of 10 positions based on student needs within the board.
Prior to the board’s monthly meeting it held its annual general meeting. At that meeting executive positions of the elected school board were voted on by members.
Michael Drew remains chair of the board, after he and Donna Tidd were nominated for the position.
There is a new vice-chair of the board after a larger number of votes were cast for board member Melanie Surette-Kenney over Tidd.
The position of third executive of the board went to Michael Alden Fells in a vote outcome over Dolores Atwood.