Board of Education Passes 2024/25 Budget


Despite facing a $2.8 million-dollar shortfall for the upcoming school year, the Sooke School District Board of Education passed a balanced budget for the 2024-25 school year at the May 28, 2024, public board meeting. All school districts in British Columbia are required to pass a balanced budget for the upcoming school year to the Ministry of Education and Child Care by June 30 each year.

The projected shortfall primarily stems from unfunded inflation pressures, notably affecting the costs of benefits and utility expenses to the tune of $2.2 million. While the District has managed to navigate these inflationary challenges in recent years, it is no longer sustainable, and the Board of Education was confronted with tough decisions in order to balance the budget.

An additional unexpected pressure to the budget dynamic for the upcoming school year is the reclassification of the Sooke School District’s unique geographic location factor by the Ministry of Education and Child Care. The reclassification, due to increased growth in Colwood and Langford, led to a reduction in $400,000 in annual operating grant funding from the provincial government. Despite continued urbanization in Colwood and Langford, the District remains responsible for serving an expansive geographical area, encompassing urban, suburban, and rural areas.

The educational landscape is evolving rapidly, marked by increasingly complex classrooms and a rising demand for support services among students. Historically, schools have faced the challenge of doing more with less. The reality is that public funding is finite. As Trustees, our unwavering commitment lies in safeguarding our students' classroom experiences amidst budgetary challenges.” - Amanda Dowhy, Board Chair

The biggest change that will impact some families was the decision to reinstate transportation fees as part of balancing the budget. Transportation is largely unfunded by the Ministry of Education and Child Care and the School Act does not require school districts to provide bus transportation services. Since 2016, the Board of Education has opted to provide busing services out of its operating grant (less a $25.00 safety fee), however; that option is no longer financially viable for the District to continue.

With the Board of Education having passed a motion to charge transportation fees, staff will begin working on confirming fee models for the upcoming school year. Even with the fee reinstatement, the District will continue to heavily subsidize transportation fees. It is anticipated that the fee will only offset 40% of the cost that it takes to transport riders for the school year. Once details are confirmed, families can expect an update, covering installment options, financial assistance, and discounts for families that have multiple riders.

The Board of Education recognizes the importance of fiscal responsibility while prioritizing the needs of students and school communities. Through collaborative efforts and strategic planning, the District remains dedicated to delivering a quality education experience despite increased budgetary pressures.

Picture of the 2024-25 Financial Plan