School district 20 ill over sick days

The School District 20 ended up with a $226,734 overrun in its budget for replacement teachers and district staff for the school year.

School District No. 20 (Kootenay Columbia) should be sick of sick days as the end of the academic school year also ends the bleeding from the district’s substitute expenditure budget.

The school district ended up with a $226,734 overrun in its budget for replacement teachers and district staff for the school year, while other measures expected to offset the 22 per cent jump did not materialize.

In its last regular meeting before breaking for the summer, SD20 board of trustees discovered that substitute expenditures for May were over $150,000, while the district budgeted $83,000 per month.

“That is very high considering that we did implement some cost measures to try and mitigate the cost,” said SD20 secretary-treasurer Natalie Verigin during the June 18 meeting.

“Now we are sitting in a deficit position in that line item.”

She said June was projected to put the labour and benefit budget into a deficit position well over $300,000. But she told the board she was “hopeful we will find enough so that we are not putting a deficit on our financial statements.”

Overall, the school district sat with 11 per cent of their $37.4 million budget remaining at the end of May—$4.07 million left for June and the summer months—which Verigin felt was on track.

Although the district received some money back from the province ($56,000), it will have to do some creative accounting to account for most of the substitute expenditure overrun.

“Many other departments have been asked to stop spending and have had their equipment budgets frozen to help the situation out,” said SD20 superintendent of schools, Greg Luterbach.

Some planned school district purchases were put on hold, he said, noting there was money in the budget to replace vehicles for the district’s maintenance crew, as well as buy some new computers.

In the end it could not make up the difference in the budget. The reversal of fortune on the budget perplexed trustee Gordon Smith.

“I think the question is why the May expenditure was $150,000 when we were expecting some relief from the mitigating operational protocols and policies we put in place?” he said.

Luterbach had done some analysis on that but did not have an answer.

“It was disappointing and I cannot honestly tell you why we are seeing that,” said Luterbach. “I haven’t been able to go back and cost out what we actually did save as a result of the mitigating strategies to see if our projections were wrong.”

The mitigation was based on a previous year’s example that would have saved about $50,000.

The current budget projected for 2012-13 is $1.22 million for substitute expenditures. Last year the school district budgeted $1.34 million but used $1.36 million, an increase of $477,057 over 2009-10.