Continuing Continuing Ed
The school board voted unanimously Monday night to let Continuing Education carry on for the 2012-2013 school year and to revaluate the program prior to adoption of the 2013-2014 preliminary budget, despite a continuing gap between revenue and cost.
When comparing program costs to the fees collected so far for the fall term, the differential is $140,000. But Maureen Ciarniello, associate superintendent of learning services, says that’s not a budget loss. She said the district is being “harsh” on itself when calculating whether it’s meeting overhead costs. Fifty-three more courses were still to start at the time of the update, Oct. 23, so additional revenue is expected and the gap between revenue and spending is expected to shrink further during the winter term.
“We noted that we offered a third fewer courses than last year but our revenues are only down nine per cent over last year at this point,” Ciarniello said.
Axing Continuing Education was one of the options the board considered last spring to manage its $4.68 million 2012-2013 budget shortfall. It was estimated that terminating the 105-year-old program would save the district about $100,000 in 2012-2013 and that $150,000 could be earned in rental income from vacated space.
But the board decided in June to continue with the fall session, try to build up the program, address the budget shortfall and explore whether other organizations, such as Langara College, would be interested in running any part of the program if the district decided to give it up.
Staff freshened up the Continuing Education website, focused on marketing courses better and didn’t put any work into offering classes that had been repeatedly cancelled over the years.
Ciarniello reported to the Education and Student Services Committee last month that participation in Continuing Education’s Saturday Zone program that’s targeted for children and youth increased three times over the winter 2012 term, and increased targeted advertising appears to have resulted in higher registration for Night School in One Day courses and a 40 per cent increase in revenue.
“We’re just trying a bunch of things to see if they’ll work because we heard strongly during the budget process that there were a lot of people who valued the courses and the fact that this program has been around over a hundred years,” Ciarniello said.
Other organizations were interested in offering courses in school spaces designed for woodworking, jewelry making and cooking and were keen to work with some of the Continuing Education instructors, she said.
Vancouver’s Private School Expo runs at the Westin Bayshore this Sunday, Nov. 11. The event includes seminars on how to choose the best school, how to pay for private school and an exhibit hall were you can talk to representatives of schools from noon until 4 p.m. Families that pre-register receive half off the $20 admission. The Bayshore is at 1501 Bayshore Dr. For more information, see schoolexpo.ca.