Where would you spend school dollars?

Surrey School District seeking input as it prepares 2015-2016 operating budget.

The Surrey Board of Education is seeking input on what its budget priorities should be for the 2015-2016 school year.

As in the past several years, the board says the needs will once again outpace funds received from government. And that may result in “difficult choices” as trustees figure out how to best serve Surrey and White Rock students.

Last year, the district had to shave about $9 million in expenditures in order to balance the $589-million operating budget and maintain existing programs and services, resulting in staff layoffs and re-assignments.

Since 2008, similar cost-cutting moves have been made annually, including reducing support and district staff and cutting the number of instructional days in the year (extending spring break, etc.) to save Teacher on Call costs.

More than 90 per cent of the operating budget pays for staff – teachers, education assistants, principals and support staff such as secretaries and custodians – while less than 10 per cent goes to services and supplies, including utilities. (The capital budget is separate and pays for land and buildings).

Each year, the board meets with employee groups, parents and community organizations to discuss challenges and issues facing the school district, and gather input.

Community members are also welcome to send submissions to budget@surreyschools.ca by Feb. 27. Submissions may be mailed to Secretary Treasurer Wayne Noye, 14033 92 Ave., Surrey, B.C. V3V 0B7.

A guide called Understanding School District Finances is available at http://bit.ly/1DmIABA

Additional information on the school district, including financial reports, are available at www.surreyschools.ca under the ‘About’ tab.