Mission school district has $3.9M deficit

Trustees have plan to pay back debt within three years

Mission Public Schools is facing a $3.9-million deficit, and plans to retire that debt within three years.

Originally, a $1.2-million deficit was reported to the board of trustees, but further investigation within the past month into the budget revealed that number to be higher.

There is an operating deficit of $1.45 million, said secretary-treasurer Wayne Jefferson. Included in that figure is about $900,000 of severance for a number of administration staff who were let go late last year. An additional deficit of $639,000 for local capital (which includes items such as instructional equipment) was also listed.

And through decisions made in years past, there also exists an $814,000 bank loan that must be repaid, along with $1 million in capital leases (mostly technology equipment such as photocopiers, etc.).

The bank loan was taken out to fund the construction of the new Riverside College on Dewdney Trunk Road. The school district sold the original school site on Lougheed Highway, and received some money from the provincial government to renovate the facilities building and turn it into the current Riverside.

After sale proceeds and capital contributions from the Ministry of Education, the outstanding amount was financed through a bank loan.

“Normally, capital projects are funded by the government,” Jefferson said. “[This decision] was a local decision taken by the elected board” of the day.

The secretary-treasurer said the district will pay back $1.1 million this year. He also noted that the small $117,000 surplus created through cost-cutting across the district this year will also be put towards the debt.

The figures were always in the budget, explained board chair Edie Heinrichs, but were not presented in the way the current secretary-treasurer has done.

“We can only operate on what we were told. Until we brought in our new secretary-treasurer, that level of detail was not presented to us,” said Taylor.

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