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School board covers $1-M deficit from operating reserves

Livingstone Range School Board will use operating reserves to cover a deficit of more than $1-million as enrollment continues to decline.
There will be no significant staff cuts in the 2013-’14 budget approved May 30.
“There have not been significant changes in the support staff or the teaching staff in this budget,” associate superintendent for business services Jeff Perry said.
The budget anticipates revenues of $47,701,334 and expenditures of $48,706,097 resulting in a projected deficit of $1,004,763.
The expenses break down to $35,993,135 for instruction; $2,172,479 for board and system administration; $7,195,006 for plant operations and maintenance; and $3,345,476 for transportation; for total expenses of $48,706,97.63.
The deficit results from significant cuts in provincial funding in the area of plant operations and maintenance.
The division is running about a $300,000 deficit, which it is able to cover this year.
The remaining part of the deficit, about $700,000, will be covered by schools using their reserves.
Provincial funding is based on enrollment which is continuing to decline.
This year enrollment is projected to decrease 120.5 full-time equivalent students, which equates to a decrease of about 3.4 per cent.
In his submission to Alberta Education, Perry noted several risks:

  • Costs increase due to low turnover of staff, mainly teachers.
  • Labour negotiations are on-going so the budget may not reflect the true costs of labour.
  • The use of school and department reserves is not sustainable for future operations.
  • Plant operation and maintenance budgets are tight and do not provide the funds for long-term facility planning.
  • The reduction to the provincial government’s fuel subsidy will make it difficult to balance transportation budgets.

Perry highlighted some positive aspects to the budget.
He referred to continued support for First Nations Metis and Inuit programming, relationships, and achievement; the movement towards inclusive practices; the continuation of a partnership to develop Career and Technology Studies teachers; support for leadership development and capacity; and the continuation of a technology co-ordinator to infuse technology into instruction.