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Surrey Board of Education approves $1.1 billion budget for 2024-25 school year

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For the second year in a row, the Surrey Board of Education has passed an annual budget totalling more than a billion dollars for the upcoming 2024-25 school year.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, trustees unanimously approved a budget worth $1,142,747,433, with more than $663M for teacher costs and nearly $480M for all other costs. The budget is based on numerous variables, including projected enrolment, capital costs, grant funding, labour settlements and wage increases, inflation, supply chain delays, recruitment and retention challenges, efficiency needs and updating business systems, and lingering effects of the pandemic.

“This budget reaffirms our commitment to our Learning by Design vision, emphasizing learning, engagement, equity, truth and reconciliation,” said Trustee Terry Allen, who is also chair of the finance committee. “However, the upcoming school year does present unique challenges. We are facing increased costs due to inflation, with no additional funding in our operating grants to offset these costs, requiring the district to utilize existing resources more strategically.

“Moreover, a provincewide teacher shortage and continued enrolment growth necessitate a strategic approach to our budgeting process.”

Allen outlined several solutions the district is undertaking to address these challenges without compromising educational quality, including extending the school day at six secondary schools, relocating the Montessori program from Latimer Road Elementary, reducing the number of French Immersion divisions at one elementary school and the ongoing evaluation of all programs and services for financial viability.

In a message to staff and parents last week, Supt. Mark Pearmain echoed the same challenges and emphasized the district’s dedication to managing enrolment growth within the budget.

“We have developed a clear, multi-year strategy to address these issues effectively while continuing to deliver high-quality educational programs,” wrote Pearmain. “Our approach involves refining our resource management, conducting a thorough review of how we utilize physical spaces, and strategically allocating staff resources. We are committed to not only sustaining our operations but also to ensuring educational excellence in the upcoming school year and beyond.”

In addition to these issues, the board report detailed other risk factors that could impact the district’s financial situation, including capital project contribution costs, enrolment uncertainties, grant funding uncertainties and a possible funding model review.

The report noted some difficult decisions, including the discontinuation of bussing for the Intensive Literacy Program, the closure of two StrongStart sites due to funding challenges, and a hiring freeze for district office positions that do not directly support core educational objectives. Non-enrolling staff, such as career facilitators, transitions teachers and technology support teachers, will be reallocated to classroom positions to address the teacher shortage and ensure every classroom benefits from the presence of a certified teacher.

“These measures are critical for enhancing educational outcomes and maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Allen. “As Finance Chair, I am confident that this budget not only protects the well-being of our staff and students but also sharpens our focus on student learning and success.”

Each year, the district conducts a public consultation seeking input on budget priorities, with this year’s consultation gathering 6,700 survey responses from parents, students, staff and community members across Surrey and White Rock. The Finance Committee utilized this feedback, as well as the 7,600 responses to our Long Range Facilities Plan consultation, to better understand the priorities of our community as they finalized the budget.

The district also analyzed financial needs based on projected enrolment, which is expected to reach 92,000 to 97,000 students by 2033. The board report noted a capital budget shortfall of $3.8 million, after consideration of projected revenues and expenses. This was offset by existing an accumulated capital fund balance.

The annual budget is made up of three separate funds: the operating fund, special purpose fund and capital fund.

  • Operating costs include classroom and instructional programs, school and district administration, and the maintenance of schools, district facilities and transportation.
  • Special purpose funds are provided by funders or donors for specific functions such as school meal programs, scholarships and ministry-designated activities, including annual facility grants, classroom enhancement grants, Student and Family Affordability programs and early learning programs.
  • Capital funding largely comes from Ministry of Education capital grants, as well as operating and special purpose funds, for the construction of new schools, school expansions and upgrades; vehicles, computers, furniture and equipment; and site acquisitions for new schools.

To view the 2024-25 annual budget, click here


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