School board chair Rod Ross voted on the Langley School District’s annual budget on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The budget was impacted by the pandemic in several ways. (YouTube/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

School board chair Rod Ross voted on the Langley School District’s annual budget on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The budget was impacted by the pandemic in several ways. (YouTube/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Pandemic means less overseas student revenue for Langley School District

The board of education approved its annual budget Feb. 23

Langley’s school board approved a $282 million budget that shows the effects of the pandemic on education finances at its virtual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

The draft budget had a $5 million deficit that will have to be made up with money from surpluses in various programs, district secretary treasurer Brian Iseli told the board Tuesday night.

He broke down the costs of the budget, of which the vast majority goes to the costs of instruction – $226 million.

Other major costs are $8.8 million for district administration, $27 million for operations and maintenance, and $2.5 million for transportation and housing. Another $12.8 million is budgeted for amortization of capital assets like buildings and vehicles.

The bulk of district funding comes from the provincial Ministry of Education, but Iseli noted that one of the other big pieces of district funding, tuition, is down quite a bit over the last year because there are far fewer international students coming to Langley due to the pandemic.

“The numbers were slightly lower than even were projected in the preliminary budget,” Iseli said.

In addition, the relatively small amounts of revenue the district usually gets from renting out its gyms and other facilities to outside user groups was down, and the pandemic even impacted district investments. Lower interest rates reduced the amount of money coming back in.

The district saved some money based on lower enrolment – seven divisions were eliminated across the district, Iseli said. Busing was reduced as well, saving money as routes were eliminated.

One budget item that came about because of the pandemic should continue, now that it’s been proved to be so valuable, said Trustee Marnie Wilson. She would like to see daytime custodian service keep going.

“There has to be a way for us to advocate as a board to the ministry – now that we’ve had that, we can never go back,” she said.

Wilson and Trustee Shelley Coburn also both said they hope in future budgets some money can be found to assign personal technology – like iPads or laptops – to the support staff who work with students. Right now they have to use equipment signed out from a cart on a daily basis.

The vote was unanimous on approving the budget.

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