By Carlie Connolly
With the recent provincial budget, the Prairie Rose School Division’s Board of Trustees voiced their concern as to how it will impact its students, staff and communities.
The students and teachers are facing a minimum reduction of $542,000 dollars in support services, which is also a result of cuts to several grants. In addition to the cuts, there is also approximately $1.4 million dollars that the division is covering through its reserve funds to maintain services for the current school year.
Brian Andjelic said that this school year of 2015/2016 is the first time that they have run a significant deficit.
He said that the idea of the use of reserve funds is confusing at the moment.
“Language around what needs to be done to run another deficit budget next year is unclear and so we’re just working with Alberta Education to try to better understand what that will look like, so right now our understanding is that we will have to have some kind of permission to be able to run a deficit and therefore also running a deficit means that we can dip into our surpluses’,” he said.
Because they have an estimated $542,000 dollar negative difference between the amount of money that they’re expecting from revenue’s compared to what they are going to be expending, they are expecting there to be reductions in support services. They don’t know what that will look like yet but with it being half a million, Andjelic said that you can’t expect to run things the same way that you have even if you have a further half a million dollar deficit.
With a promise from Alberta Education to not decrease teaching staff, the cuts have to come from somewhere else.
Transportation fees will see a decrease in 1.35 percent or $70,000 dollars. Parents should also expect to see a reduction in service as well. Plant operations and maintenance will be cut by over 3 percent, which helps to maintain the division’s buildings. There will also be many other cuts including the rate for non-teaching staff, ECS program unit funding and many more.
“How can you maintain the same service you’ve had if you’re getting less money? This is the most challenging budget in my 35 year career,” he said.
Work will continue to progress on Schuler school and they are expecting there to be shovels in the ground by August. Eagle Butte School is still on the priority list, with no start date yet.
“This budget presents many challenges,” said Board Chair Stuart Angle in a media release. “Finding efficiencies in an already lean budget will not be easy, especially when you’ve already been doing that for seven years. Thankfully the government has followed through on a couple of promises. A lot of work has been done in preparation of a new school in Schuler and a possible modernization at Eagle Butte. We are pleased those projects will continue forward.”