Brian Iseli, secretary-treasurer for the Langley School District, presented the 2020/2021 annual budget bylaw for consideration at a board meeting on May 26, 2020. (Langley School Board video screen grab)

Cost of COVID-19 ‘biggest unknown’ for Langley School District budget

District’s 2020/2021 annual budget bylaw sent to a third reading during board meeting

Although the district’s 2020/2021 annual budget bylaw was sent to a third reading during a recent Langley School District board meeting, staff weren’t sure how the added cost of cleaning schools would be funded should students return to the classroom full-time in September.

Secretary-treasurer Brian Iseli admitted it was the “hardest budget this district has had to do since the deficit times nearly 10 years ago.”

“There’s a lot in this budget that keeps me up at night right now,” he said.

On Tuesday (May 26) the board approved the first and second reading of the annual budget bylaw in the amount of $261,626,069 and heard from superintendent of schools Gord Stewart about what the school community can expect for those returning to the classroom on Monday (June 1).

READ MORE: Nearly 6,200 Langley students set to return to school June 1

The district is required by the Ministry of Education and the School Act to submit an annual budget for the following school-year by June 30.

A major risk the district is facing is the uncertainty of its International Student Program (ISP).

During the presentation of the budget Iseli explained projections for the ISP were reduced about 25 per cent, which means a decrease in revenue.

About 875 international students are interested in enrolling in Langley schools, but Iseli says the district anticipates some may not be able to come.

There were a number of areas the district saved on costs including nearly a $2 million reduction in supplies for things like photocopying and school supply.

But despite the savings the district is at a deficit budget of just less than $2.4 million.

Looking ahead to the 2020/2021 school-year the district will be required to follow the ministry’s cleaning guidelines should in-class instruction resume full-time but the cost of cleaning schools is not yet known.

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“There has been no funding for that,” said Iseli. “The district has saved funds in other areas because of the fact that we’ve had the shutdown of schools for a number of months and even with the start up now we will probably end up saving more money than spending this fiscal year.”

READ MORE: Langley School District outlines plans for partial in-school learning starting June 1st

The district is also losing revenue from daycare and rental of facilities in addition to decreased projections for the ISP.

Iseli called COVID-19 “the biggest unknown” and proving budgeting for the next year challenging.

“It could have an impact on kinds of things for this district… we rent schools out normally, but right now we’re not able to do that… it could have an impact on our enrolment projections – the economy is definitely impacted by this,” he said.

Third and final reading of the bylaw will be presented to the board at a scheduled board meeting on June 16.


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