Penticton school district fixes deficit, but face loss of teachers

Hard times at school district

Penticton's School District 67 is still facing financial troubles heading into the next school year.

In early 2020, the district was facing a $1.2 million deficit due in part to lower student enrolment than anticipated in the 2019/20 school year.

The board of trustees learned at a meeting Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures had changed things.

Money the district would have spent on substitute teachers and other staff and utilities costs in recent weeks has not been spent, leading to a prediction that by the end of June, the district will see a surplus of $551,623.

"At this point, we're looking at the financial forecast in a different position than we were prior to [COVID-19]," said acting superintendent Todd Manuel.

But job cuts for teachers are still looming. Enrolment is expected to drop even further in the coming school year.

"We're projecting to lose close to 188 [students] next year ... and because the Ministry of Education funding formula is largely based on student enrolment, then if we have that many less students, that's where the pressure comes around building the budget," Manuel explained. 

The budget for 2020/21 has yet to be finalized and will be discussed further at a board meeting on May 25.

Teachers' jobs are on the line, and potentially even school closures. Board trustees will be able to ask detailed questions of district staff at the meeting before voting. 

Manuel said the year has been extremely challenging. 

"Challenging for a lot of families in our community, I know that, around employment and around the economy, let alone everything else that's gone on in our school district."

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