School board greenlights 2019-20 budget, trial Facebook page

During their March 12 meeting, the School District of Mystery Lake (SDML) board of trustees unanimously approved their budget for the upcoming school year.

Overall, this budget represents a 1.8 per cent decline in spending from the previous year, dropping from $42,734,725 in 2018-19 to $41,960,427 in 2019-20.

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Trustee Lindsay Anderson mentioned that it was extremely difficult to put this budget together, since it means they will make cuts to services (-$4,250), supplies (-$17,000) and employee benefits (-$999,300).

While the board didn’t go over the nuts and bolts of the 2019-20 budget Tuesday, secretary-treasurer Kelly Knott laid these numbers out during a Feb. 28 public meeting, mentioning that it was affected by a variety of factors like increased demand for student supports.

Student services administrator Jolene Brown highlighted what this increased demand looks like earlier in the evening, estimating that approximately 250 SDML students (around eight per cent of the entire student population) currently require specialized care due to mental or physical disabilities.

This is a considerable step up over the roughly 118 students that Brown said qualified for special needs funding back in 2016.

The province’s special needs funding hasn’t changed since then.

The district’s overall provincial funding for the 2019-20 year is 3.16 per cent less than what was initially announced for 2018-19, though it is 2.6 per cent higher than the funding the SDML actually received after adjustments.

The district has until March 31 to submit their budget to the province.

Anyone can access a full breakdown of the 2019-20 budget through the “documents” section of the SDML’s website.

New Facebook page

The district’s online presence was also a topic of conversation during the public relations committee report, when Anderson announced that they will be establishing a temporary SDML Facebook page in May.

This social media account will run for a trial period of four months. The school board will review its viability in September and decide whether or not it’s worth continuing.

Anderson also said there are no plans to establish accounts on other social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter at this time.

While former trustee Rob Pellizzaro did set up a Twitter account for the school district during his tenure as board chairperson, this social media presence disappeared after he decided not to run in the 2014 municipal election.

Outside of their website, unofficial accounts like @RDPCAthletics and those run by individual schools, the SDML hasn’t cultivated any kind of online presence since then.

The next SDML board meeting is April 9 at 7 p.m.

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