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Thursday, 15 December 2016 07:41

Minor adjustments made to Grasslands budget

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Only slight adjustments needed to be made to the Grasslands Regional Division’s 2016-17 budget once final funding and enrolment figures were inserted. It still predicts a deficit of more than half a million dollars to operate for the school year.

The revised budget was presented at the Nov. 28 board meeting.
“Overall there were not a lot of changes,” points out Rhian Schroeder, associate superintendent business services.
The biggest changes to the budget can be seen in fees and fundraising as the provincial government changed its requirements for reporting these figures. This is the first full year that Grasslands will be operating with its new school-generated funds accounting system, and Schroeder says the timing couldn’t have worked out any better.
“We’re better able to track our fundraising,” she adds.
The budget update shows revenues of $48,194,389 and expenses of $48,706,007 leaving a deficit of $511,618. The deficit will be covered by pulling the money from operating reserves.
“Our enrolment went up slightly which resulted in some increased revenue,” said Schroeder. “Overall, our expenses are not a whole lot different.”
There is a change from the spring budget which was an increase in spending on instructional furniture and equipment of $277,011. Of that money, about $110,000 is for the start-up of the Eastbrook addition capital project. Another area changed is showing the expense for the maintenance and repair of the Uplands P3 school which is $212,192.
The revised budget also reflects a small increase in staffing as the actual ECS enrolment (specifically PUF students) was higher than projected from the spring.
The carbon tax, coming into effect in January, has been taken into consideration in the budget. Earlier in this spring, Schroeder estimated it will likely cost the division an additional $60,000 for gasoline and natural gas.
The division has its electricity supplied by wind power, so is insulated from the carbon tax in this area.
One addition to the 2016/17 budget which was made in the spring was a full-time Math consultant who will be able to spend more time with teachers on Math. Testing results in Math led to this addition, as did the fact some teachers commented they would appreciate more support in teaching the subject. There has been success seen and improvements with the full-time literacy co-ordinator position, so division officials felt creating a full-time Math consultant position would also be beneficial.
Grasslands officials are not too concerned about a budget that shows a deficit again.
“The Government keeps telling us to use the reserves we have,” points out Schroeder. “We have quite a bit in reserves. If we need to spend money in certain places, we’re going to be able to cover it.”
The school division has more than $5 million in reserves, including a healthy transportation reserve with more than $1 million.
“We’re a fairly compact division and the transportation funding works quite well for us,” adds Schroeder.
Grasslands operates its own fleet of buses, hires its own drivers and is able to purchase four new buses each year through a vehicle replacement plan.
“We’ve always run our own buses and are able to operate pretty efficiently running our own fleet,” she explains.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor