Catholic school board to use surplus to cover deficit

A deficit of $454,000 will cause the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division to dip into surplus funds to cover the shortfall during the 2009/2010 school year budget.

A deficit of $454,000 will cause the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division to dip into surplus funds to cover the shortfall during the 2009/2010 school year budget.

The division’s revenues are at around $63.8 million and expenses are at around $64.3 million. The division has more than $4-million surplus funds that the board can use.

“Surpluses are always for rainy days. We look at it at all forms of government, where they use surpluses to off-set their deficits,” said Secretary-Treasurer Rod Steeves. Steeves said 80 per cent of the budget costs are based on employee salaries.

The board plans to give a 4.8-per -cent increase to all workers in the division, which is based on Statistics Canada’s past determination of Alberta average weekly earnings index.

Since the division signed agreements with teachers and other support staff Statistics Canada has revised its way of calculating the Alberta average weekly earnings index, with the amount now at 5.99 per cent. School boards were advised by Education Minister Dave Hancock at the Alberta School Boards Association meeting in Red Deer Monday to stick with the 4.8 per cent figure. The Alberta Teachers’ Association and the provincial government are currently in discussions about the salary increase.

Steeves said they don’t expect student enrolment to increase from the just over 6,000 students currently in the Catholic division.

“We’re looking at it conservatively at this point. We don’t know what the future holds. Those are the students that we know are going to be coming into our school,” Steeves said. “That is a conservative number, hopefully we will increase our student population, but we have to be conservative…”

Provincial funding at the elementary to middle school levels is determined by the number of students attending schools on September 30 each year and in high school it is determined by the number of credits.

No job cuts are expected and the Catholic board expects to meet class size initiatives for all grades except for the younger students between kindergarten to Grade 3, where there isn’t enough space in most of the schools to split them into smaller groups.

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