School board on target for budget Final budget ready Feb. 11 By Chris Woodall A year-to-date budget report shows Howe Sound school board is on target for its spending in the 1997-98 school year. The final budget won't be submitted to the board until Feb. 11. The admittedly late date for a school year that began in September occurs because the provincial government doesn't crunch its numbers to determine what it will give each school board until Christmas time, says Nancy Edwards, school board secretary-treasurer. The school board develops its budget calculated by the number of students it forecasts will attend its elementary and secondary schools. When those figures are known, they are given to the provincial government for final per-student funding. The school board and staff will be breathing a sigh of relief to see its forecasted budget matches what it actually got from the province, Edwards says. The budget report shows that it has spent, generally speaking, about a third of its budget, which puts it on target for the first third of the school year (ending Nov. 30, 1997), Edwards says. Teacher salaries — representing the bulk of the school board's budget — cost $7,086,171 so far of a budgeted $23.1 million. Although items listed under the "school blocks" portion of the budget would seem to be over spent (there's 57 per cent of the budget left), Edwards says principals are responsible for these areas and are not allowed to go beyond what they are budgeted. School block items include library operations, equipment repairs and maintenance, and purchases of new and replacement equipment. Schools may be spending more toward the first part of the year — to buy needed equipment, for example — as opposed to buying equipment evenly through the year. "It is in their discretion to raise money," Edwards says of ways to add to a school's resources. On the other hand, support services programs are under spent with 89 per cent of the allocated budget left. These items include speech/language services, school psychologists, child care workers, and other special services. Administrative costs look to be over spent at 48 per cent of the budget remaining. The year starts July 1 for those items, so that five months along (remember, this report ends Nov. 30), the budget is on target, Edwards explains. As with school block items, some costs are weighted to the front of the school year. School board membership fees in the provincial trustees association would be paid in one lump, for example, to explain why the "board activities" line item has just 34 per cent of its budget left, Edwards says. Physical operations ($927,831 left), professional development and inservice costs ($288,165 left) and non-school block programs — covering computer systems, French as a second language and native education programs — ($681,966 left) are all on target at 65-68 per cent of budget left.