Keep surplus money local

School District 67 has outlined its plans to put an official policy regarding budget surpluses into writing, to avoid having leftover money returned to the government.

At Monday's meeting, the school board heard about the Ministry of Education's pending requirements for school boards for financial accountability and governance. 

"There have been some issues and some concerns when trustees are asked to make decisions with regard to all of those financial impacts," said secretary-treasurer Bonnie Roller-Routley.

The ministry has provided a "tool kit" for trustees to refer to while navigating budget issues.

It has also recommended that by June 2018, the school district have a "cumulative operative surplus policy" in place, which dictates how the board deals with surpluses in the budget.

"Right now, we have a surplus and we restrict some of that surplus and any accumulated surplus, for example, for Aboriginal education, giving the money back to the schools, implementation of curriculum," Roller-Routley said. "The ministry doesn't tell us we have to carry that forward, we are saying we want to carry it forward."

"We don't have anything in writing. So without [that], it is feasible that the ministry comes back and says, 'What do you mean you restricted that money? You have no right to do that' and takes the money back."

Roller-Routley said that a written policy would be in place by the ministry-recommended June deadline.

She also pointed out that of the 60 school districts in British Columbia, SD 67 was ranked 52 out of 60 in terms of amount of surplus left at the end of the budget year in 2016, which is a point of pride.

"We are spending our money on kids here, now," Roller-Routley said. "We're not sitting there and creating surpluses that are so high that the money's not being spent on the kids here today."

SD 67 had a budget of around $68 million for the 2017-18 budget year, out of a total provincial Ministry of Education budget of around $5 billion. 

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