By Peggy Revell
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Costs for facilities and operations alongside transportation are the main reasons why Prairie Rose School Division is projecting a deficit budget of $605,055 for the 2015-16 school year.
While a deficit budget is being forecast, board chair Stuart Angle said he’s still thankful since funding cuts that had been proposed by the previous PC budget had been restored by the new government.
“I have no idea how we could have functioned under the previous (budget).”
“(Provincial funding) is back to zero,” said superintendent Brian Andjelic. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for that.”
But it also means the board has to find savings or increase revenue, as part of the division’s two-year plan to move back toward a balanced budget.
Overall, the division is expecting “very, very minimal growth” in student enrolment in the upcoming year, said secretary treasurer Ryan Boser, with an increase of only 4.5 full-time students being projected.
Staffing levels will remain “relatively the same,” he said. “Overall, operations and maintenance has the most significant impact to our deficit in the 2015-16 budget,” said Boser, with a deficit of $563,091 expected.
Transportation also remains an issue, running a deficit of $137,674.
“This is the realization of transportation in a rural school division. It’s not cheap to transport our students.”
Overall revenues have increased by $1.4 million, mainly due to the government increasing base grant funding to pay increases agreed to under the teaching agreement.
The board has looked to find savings elsewhere – including in administration costs. Currently the board is spending only 4.33 per cent of its budget on administrative costs, below the provincial requirement of 4.92 per cent. Any savings however, are clawed back by the province.
Cutbacks include having only seven trustees instead of eight, and having an assistant superintendent for only half the year.
The division is also expecting an extra $80,000 in revenue from selling some teacherages.
“Overall, the reserves are still in good shape,” said Boser.