School district funding increases $24 million funding announcement recognizes growth of district The Ministry of Education has recognized that the Howe Sound School District is one of the fastest growing school districts in the province. Education Minister Art Charbonneau released the funding allocations for school districts all across the province last week and school administrators breathed a sigh of relief when provincial numbers show a projected enrolment increase of 117 students in the Howe Sound School District. The total funding for the district in 1995-96 is $25,189,381, up from the previous funding level of $23,831,072. Howe Sound Superintendent Doug Courtice, says the Ministry of Education uses their own growth projections to determine funding on a per-student basis, so until the funding announcements were made, he was waiting with baited breath. "Generally speaking the funding increase or decrease is driven primarily by the projected number of students," Courtice says. "We didn't know how many the ministry was projecting, so until that announcement is made we don't know what's going to happen here as far as covering the costs needed to educate these kids." At the end of February, the Howe Sound School District had a student population of 4,100. Courtice says the provincial enrolment projections are "pretty close" to the projections done within the district so he is satisfied with the funding announcement. "The biggest question we need to sort out is we have to determine which schools those student are going to and at what grade levels so we can make the necessary budget adjustments," he says. Although the announcement shows an overall funding increase, Courtice says that does not mean some programs may have to be cut as the local budget is formulated over the next couple of weeks. The district budget process kicked off last month with a stakeholders meeting in Squamish. The meeting gets parents, teachers, administrators and staff together to prioritize budgetary items. Courtice says this grassroots approach to budget building creates a situation where any possible program cuts are directed from the ground up, not from the top down. "Any budgetary implications, either positive or negative, will come from the people to the board table and the board will make decisions based on the input that has been supplied." Even though the funding total is up because of a projected enrolment increase, Courtice says he is a bit disappointed there is no inflationary increase designed to deal with the rising hard costs of educating kids. The costs of bus insurance, hydro, teaching supplies and gasoline have all increased, yet the funding levels for those items have remained level — and that money has to come from somewhere. "We are confident it is going to be business as usual," he says. "I'm not saying we won't be cutting any programs, but through this priority-building process we have, communities and staff may recommend some things be increased and some decreased... we've got some work to do." The final budget from the school district must be submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval by ????????????????