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Thursday, 01 December 2016 08:00

Increased enrolment means smaller projected deficit for Prairie Rose School Division for the 2016-17 school year

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Thanks to increased enrolment, the Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) revised 2016-17 budget approved at the Nov. 29 special meeting, included a lower estimated deficit.

“Our enrolment increased by 29 FTE students, so there is an injection of money coming into this,” Ryan Boser, secretary-treasurer, told the board.
Overall the deficit for this school year decreased by about $197,000 from earlier estimates. The revised budget shows revenues increasing by about $490,000 and expenses increasing by about $293,000 from earlier budgeting estimates done in the spring.
PRSD officials are now anticipating a shortfall of $602,364 this school year. The deficit is largest in transportation at $402,295 and Facilities Operations and Maintenance at 290,84 (but when amortization and a one-time payment from Alberta Local Authorities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange are taken into account the deficit in this area will actually only be $1,019).
The budget includes revenues of $50.8 million ($50,886,461) and expenses totalling $51.4 million ($51,488,825).
Most grants stayed the same this school year, except there was an increase in Infrastructure Maintenance Renewal (IMR) funding of 57 per cent. Salary grids remain the same and the average teacher cost has actually decreased by $724 to $101,987.
Enrolment projections until 2020 show slight decreases for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Then the trend is for enrolment to start to increase in 2020.
With the increase in instructional funding from the provincial government because of increased enrolment this school year, division officials were able to increase teaching positions in the division by 0.5 FTE and 250 support staff hours per week.
A new wireless project was added to the revised budget at a cost of about $100,000 by reducing the number of servers that will be purchased and changing purchase priorities, explained Boser.
The instructional deficit sits at only $449 for the school year. Transportation continues to be the biggest area of concern for the board moving forward.
While there was an additional $47,700 in funding to transportation this school year, with projected contract costs to PRSD of $5.411 million, that is $104,000 more than the provincial funding received before any other expenses are considered.
“Before we get to the expenses, we’re starting at a deficit of $104,000 so it only goes higher from there,” he added.
Covering the large deficit in transportation is done out of reserves.
While a 26 per cent increase in costs for heating has been estimated, due to the carbon tax coming online in January (or an increase of about $30,000), there have not been any major changes made to transportation to account for the carbon tax. It is believed those increases would likely not be seen until after this school year when busing contracts come due.
Seventy of the 96 bus contracts in the division are set to come up for renewal after the 2016/17 school year.
The budget also shows some spending from capital reserves in the 2016-17 school year to the tune of about $324,000. This includes new photocopiers, servers, two vehicles and the $83,000 board commitment towards the new school in Schuler.
“This budget shows the board’s commitment to keeping consistent levels of staffing and services ... and using reserves to cover deficits ...” added Boser.
The board approved the revised 2016-17 budget which will be forwarded on to the Alberta government.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor