Windfall for school classrooms
$1.5-million surplus was big surprise

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 29/96) - Christmas has come early for Yellowknife Education District No. 1.

A $1.5-million surplus in funds has left administrators better able to deal with cuts from the Department of Education over the next two years.

Grant Rice, secretary treasurer for the public school board, said they were expecting a $615,000 surplus, but actually had $1.5 million more in the bank, for a total surplus of $2.2 million. The bulk of the extra money came from the GNWT to cover maintenance and operating costs for Sir John Franklin high school, but the district didn't use all the funds.

The district also sold the superintendent's house, which brought in $182,000 in extra revenue.

"The rental market in Yellowknife has changed since the 1980s," he said. "And when the last superintendent left last year, we weren't sure that the new one would want the same rental arrangement."

"Through reductions, we were able to save," he said.

Cuts to the special needs program ($157,000) and various other school programs ($125,000) have also contributed to the surplus.

Rice said the extra money will be used to offset funding cuts over the next two years.

The Department of Education has said it will reduce funding by four per cent in 1997 and five per cent in 1998 from the district's overall budget of $20 million.

"And according to indications from the department, the cuts will be even higher," he said.

Rice said that the $1.2 million in total operating surplus for the district will be more important than ever.

"We need this surplus to tie us over the next two years with the reductions in funding," he said. "Our revenue will be decreased while we use this money to maintain the same level of service."