On March 18, the 2015-2016 provincial budget was announced in the legislature with a 2.9% increase in operating funds in the Education sector. Chinook School Division received an overall allocation of $84.17M, resulting in a $2.74M increase in operational funding. This funding may be subject to adjustment when actual numbers are totalled next September. The majority of this increase will essentially cover the teacher salary increase for 2015-16 as well as two years of the retroactive pay that came from the recently signed teacher agreement.
“The inflationary costs and support staff salaries will still need to be addressed within our operational budget and we will need to tighten some areas up, however we are pleased that the new teacher agreement and related back pay is covered,” said Acting Board Chair Larry Caswell, “In the context of our current provincial economy, we believe the allocations that we received will allow us to continue to keep the education of our children at the forefront of what we do without having to take drastic measures.”
Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo recognized that the government listened to feedback from the school division in some areas. “This budget reflected that they are aware of some of the needs from the field and did the best they could to address them in the current economic times. Specifically they are now assuming 100% of the capital loan costs for major facility projects, which will translate to a more efficient use of resources and administrative effort,” said Choo-Foo.
As the Board closely reviews spending priorities for the 2015-2016 budget in the next few months they will remain committed to the Strategic Plan, which includes priorities of Math Momentum and Balanced Literacy. Chinook continues to regard numeracy and literacy as the cornerstones of education.