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School board unhappy with $1.35-M budget cut

Livingstone Range School Board will face some difficult decisions after learning the provincial government has cut more than $1.35-million in funding for the 2011-’12 school year.
The board heard the bad news March 8 from Livingstone Range associate superintendent for business services Don Olsen.
“This is a tough budget,” school board chairman Dick Peterson said in a news release. “We are working together with administrators and central office staff to develop a budget that will offer a quality education to our students.”
Olsen explained that although the government increased base instruction and class size grant rates by 4.4 per cent, some funding rates remain at 2010-’11 levels, some funding categories have been reduced by 50 per cent and some funding grants have been eliminated.
These increases are intended to allow the government to uphold its commitment to cover the anticipated increase in teacher salaries for the final year of the five-year deal between the province and the Alberta Teachers’ Association.
The provincial budget anticipates teacher salary increases to be at the 4.4 per cent figure, which would amount to about $1-million for Livingstone Range, based on present staffing levels.
This committed salary expenditure increase will take all of any additional funding resulting from the increased funding rate, leaving nothing to cushion the loss of revenues resulting from other reduced or eliminated funding.
Although the class size funding rate increased by 4.4 per cent for the ECS through Grade 3 component and for the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) in the high school component, class size funding related to Grades 4 to 6 has been eliminated, effective Sept. 1, 2011 resulting in a loss of $227,000 in revenue beginning next year.
The Alberta Initiative for School Improvement funding used for innovative education projects will be reduced by 50 per cent on Sept. 1, 2011 from $527,629 to $263,815.
Stabilization funding has also been reduced by 50 per cent for Sept. 1, 2011 and will be eliminated for Sept. 1, 2012. This means an additional funding reduction of $366,711 in each of the next two years.
Funding related to intra-jurisdiction distance, enrollment growth and decline, and enhanced English as a Second Language will also be eliminated, effective Sept. 1, 2011.
The 2010-’11 funding for these three grants amounts to about $495,000.
The result of these cuts, coupled with a projected declining enrollment of about 200 students, means a difficult and challenging budget is coming for the 2011-’12 school year.
Peterson encourages parents and community members to be involved in the process through their respective school councils.
“We encourage all stakeholders in our communities to be part of these discussions as they take place at their local school council meetings,” Peterson said.

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