By Justin Seward
Prairie Rose School Division administration has had a chance to take a look at the preliminary provincial budget and attended Alberta Education meetings.
Ryan Boser, PRSD’s secretary treasurer, says each school division in the province has been given a preliminary funding profile to show how their funding differentiates from the current school year.
“From a positive perspective and a preliminary look at this, that we would be having approximately $1 million (in revenue) more in our system (next year) compared to the year we’re in right now,” said Boser.
“For this year when we got a budget in the fall, our division was down a million dollars based off the previous year. So far it shows that our funding levels have returned up to the 2018-2019 school year levels. That’s certainly positive news especially when you look at the fact we had a almost $1.3 million deficit budgeted for this year.”
The increase was due in part to a new funding model and how the model affects school divisions.
“Each school division was guaranteed they would have more money in their operating budget in the 2020-2021 school year,” he said.
“So far from a preliminary look at the budget, it looks they’ve been able to accomplish that. Secondly they’ve added in a new funding for this year that still keeps them within the $8.233 billion that they’re giving to the education sector. It’s that bridge funding that helps school divisions fund additional money that they’ve got that’s being allocated out to school jurisdictions.”
Boser says starting next year they will be using that money to fund growth in the province.
With that money, it is expected the $1 million increase will decrease in two years from now.
“That’s because the bridging money will start to decrease as they start to help funding enrollment growth around the province,” said Boser.
Boser was pleased to see that the government decided to reduce from 36 to 15 grants in the new funding model so school districts would reduce the amount of red tape administration work that had to be completed.
“We’re certainly pleased that there will be less reporting required in this new model,” he said.
School divisions were granted more flexibility in this funding model as there is only two grants that are going to be targeted grants this year, he added.
“One of them is the Operations and Maintenance grant,” he said.
“You can’t take Operations and Maintenance and put it elsewhere. But you can subsidize Operations and Maintenance through a targeted grant. The other targeted grant where there is restrictions on is the System Administration grant which we would use to pay for central office expenses. That’s a grant they’re actually giving us the money for in this funding model.”
The Operations and Maintenance grant decreased by $700,000 for next year and something Boser says will be a concerned that will be looked at.
He did caution the province has a month to finalize their numbers.