By Tim Kalinowski
The Prairie Rose School Division has revised its budget estimates for 2015-2016 at a special meeting of the school board last Tuesday. The newly approved budget will have the school division post a $623,685 deficit as opposed to the projected $605,000 deficit listed earlier this year. The greater deficit comes as a result of higher than expected transportation costs for bussing students into classes and increasing costs in plant operations and maintenance. There will also be a small deficit of $5,263 in the instructional budget.
The school board opted to cover this year’s deficit again from the division’s cash reserves instead of in cuts to staff or operations. It will also be absorbing from reserves the cost of an additional $350,000 division-wide literacy initiative for students.
The total day to day operating budget for 2015/16 will be just over $51 million.
Board chair Stuart Angle acknowledged the board could not keep absorbing deficits from cash reserves over the long run when asked if he was “happy” with the budget adopted.
“I don’t know that ‘happy’ would be the correct term,” said Angle. “It is functional to do what we need to do. We are investing in students. We’re covering off (from reserves) the things the funding from the province doesn’t fully cover like transportation.”
Angle said they have been lobbying the government to have more money budgeted annually specifically to cover transportation costs, but went on to say if that is not forthcoming tough decisions will likely have to be made in that respect in the future
“We’re going to have to start thinking about alternate plans if these deficits continue,” acknowledged Angle.
Citing the board’s $350,000 investment into literacy, he said the board’s focus has always been on ensuring the needs of its students in the classroom are met above all other considerations.
“We’re good for a couple of years, if we don’t get too crazy. Then we’re going to have to really be careful.”
Some good news on the budget front for the Prairie Rose School Division is the projected $1,356,223 deficit for 2014/ 2015 was largely erased thanks to a one time IMR (Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal) injection from the provincial government. The 2014/2015 deficit ended up only being $181,230 when all was said and done.