Wednesday, 29 May 2013 15:27

Prairie Rose School Division in the red for 2013-14

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It’s another year in the red for the Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) as staffing in the division will decrease by 9.64 full-time equivalent positions, but students will spend three more days in classrooms.

PRSD board of trustees approved a preliminary deficit budget for the next school year at the May 28 meeting.
It shows total revenues of $48,286,167 and expenses of $49,041,126 for a deficit of $754,958.
Secretary-Treasurer Patricia Cocks, said the deficit can be seen in three main areas. The instructional budget has a shortfall of $300,050 mainly due to off-campus programs transition funding and a reduction in enrollment of 41 students.
“The decline in senior high continues to be higher (than of other grades). We do start to see a levelling off in that decline in the future,” says Cocks.
The division is currently funding off-campus programs for high-school students for the next school year, but the rate of grants to do so heading into the future will diminish.
“That reduction in rates of funding will hit our high-school students in years after next (year) and beyond,” explained Cocks.
The Plant Operations and Maintenance budget also is in a deficit of $363,689 and the transportation budget is in the red $91,219, partly due to an increase of three instructional days in 2013-14 resulting in buses running more and the loss of the Fuel Price Contingency Program which was discontinued as of April 1.
The deficit will be covered by reserve funds this year.
Prairie Rose will see a reduction in its overall funding in the instructional grant of 3.6 per cent or $1.22 million. This is the decrease in off-campus programming and grants that were eliminated, such as Alberta Initiative for School Improvement. Funding for off-campus courses is reduced to 60 per cent of the previous rate and Alberta Distance Learning Centre courses are reduced to 44 per cent of the CEU rates. These two reductions result in a loss of about $431,400 for Prairie Rose.
The division does make out better with the Equity of Opportunity Grant, introduced last year. This coming school year will see it increase to $3.37 million, up from $2.08 million in 2012-13.
School divisions fund board governance and system administration with a percentage of instructional dollars.
The Province has reduced the maximum allowable expense limit for that by 10 per cent this coming school year, meaning Prairie Rose can only spend 4.88 per cent of the instructional grant received in this area.
It in the past, and this budget, spends less than the maximum allowed and in the past has given the difference back to classrooms. The Province is taking the 10 per cent from overall instructional funding resulting in a loss of $266,300.
Prairie Rose is budgeting to reduce its board governance and system administration spending by three per cent from the previous year for a total of 4.39 per cent.
That means $201,663 will be retained for instructional programs.
A one-time grant of $235,000 will be used to partially mitigate the impact of funding framework changes.
Superintendent Doug Nicholls pointed out the Province has pulled back the 10 per cent off the top which means fewer dollars can be spent in classrooms.
“We are well aware of the challenges the Province faces. We can hope the pendulum will swing back a bit in the next year or two in favour of education,” he said.
Small schools in the division with fewer than 100 students will see an increase in their base grants from $3,000 to $4,000, but the allocation to schools for non-staffing resources has been reduced by $5 to $290 per student.
Assistant Superintendent Brad Volkman said the reduction in staff for the new school year makes sense since enrollment is projected to decrease.
Volkman added some schools in the division were a little overstaffed this school year as enrollment turned out to be lower than anticipated.
Most of the positions will be cut through retirement or attrition, add division officials.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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