No gains for school divisions in budget

Education: FSD, CRCS will keep the status quo

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 10:58 am

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More dollars for local school divisions will only come if they have an increase of enrolment in 2014-15.

Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner’s announcement of a 3.2 per cent increase in education funding is largely based on growth in enrolment and no significant new money is coming, according to representative of Okotoks area school boards.

Alberta Education will have a budget of approximately $6.5 million for 2014-15.

“They added money for enrolment growth but we are funded per student,” said Scott Morrison, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools superintendent. “So to us, basically it looks like a no increase budget.”

The budget did not increase the amount paid per student. That amount is approximately $6,000 to $7,000 per student based on what grade the pupil is in.

While divisions will receive more funds if they have more students, they will have to absorb the cost of having more students.

As well, Morrison said the division faces a one per cent increase for staffing costs. Staffing is 80 per cent of the CRCS’s $90-million budget.

“So far us, we are likely at a net loss,” Morrison said. “There’s a zero per cent increase in the basic grant per student and our expenses our one per cent higher — so essentially for us it’s a one per cent deduction.”

The budget also called for a 20 per cent increase in infrastructure and maintenance, however, school divisions faced a 30 per cent cut in that department in the previous provincial budget.

Morrison said if there are any cuts at CRCS it will be done “with a scalpel and not an axe.

He said the March 6 education budget announcement would have little or no affect on student of the division.

Drew Chipman, Foothills School Division assistant superintendent-corporate services, said there are some extra funds for class size initiatives and inclusive education, but it won’t make for major changes in its $85-million a year budget.

“It would have been nice to get some additional money, but it is about what we expected,” Chipman said. “We don’t anticipate cuts as a result of the budget.”

The budget will have no impact on announced capital projects such as the $28-million modernization of the Foothills Composite High School.

Chipman did not know what the effect would be on future new schools. Foothills will be in need of a new high school within the next five years.

Both school boards have funds in reserve of around $7-million.

“We have budgeted for a deficit this year of around $700,000 and we anticipate budgeting for a deficit next year as well,” Chipman said. said. “Both of those deficits will feed into our reserves.”

CRCS has a balanced budget but will have to finance capital projects.

“We have $5-million of it (the accumulated surplus) already committed to projects,” Morrison said.“


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