By John DeCoste
The Annapolis Valley Regional School Board recently received a little good news on the provincial funding front.
Superintendent of schools Margo Tait reported at the March 6 board meeting that,
after a couple of years of funding reductions, the AVRSB had learned it will be one of three boards in the province to see a “modest increase” in 2013-2014.
The increase will amount to 0.36 per cent of the board’s budget, or approximately $400,000, which AVRSB Director of Finance Stuart Jamieson termed, “not as bad as last year, and better than the year before.
“It’s still not good, but at least it’s ‘less bad’ than it was,” he added.
Tait pointed out that allowance has been made in the board’s funding targets for wage increases, though if wages end up increasing by more than the one per cent boards are expected to absorb, the province has pledged to cover the difference.
On the negative side, boards will be required to absorb inflationary costs for energy and fuel increases. Jamieson pointed out that fuel “is eight cents a litre more than it was this time last year, which works out to about an extra 10 per cent, and we’re also looking at increases in electricity.”
In addition, the on-going cost of contracts and goods and services will also need to be absorbed.
“We still have some work to do (to balance the budget), but our gap is smaller than in previous years,” Jamieson said.
Tait agreed that achieving a balanced budget will continue to be challenging, especially after several years of reductions.
“We will make decisions based on board priorities, and are hopeful we will not need to make significant program adjustments this year,” she said.
At the same time, she said, “it is an improvement, and a step in the right direction we hope will continue.”