Chinook’s Edge will use reserves to cover deficit

Chinook’s Edge School Division is cutting into its reserves to cover a deficit of about $1 million in its $108-million budget for the 2009/2010 school year.

Chinook’s Edge School Division is cutting into its reserves to cover a deficit of about $1 million in its $108-million budget for the 2009/2010 school year.

The school division has had to go into the red as a result of lower than anticipated funding from the province and an expected decline in enrolment.

“We’re calling this a deficit budget because we’re going to be spending more than we’re taking in,” said Ian Taylor, chair of the Chinook’s Edge School Division board of education.

“We’re lucky we have the reserves that we can tap into. I know we’re also trying to economize as much as we can.”

In August 2008 the reserve funds were at $5.9 million.

Taylor said it is good that the provincial government stuck to its plan for the biggest part of the budget, which is funding the teachers’ raise at 4.8 per cent.

However, he said other parts of the funding haven’t increased the same, with increases of between zero for severe disability funding to three per cent for maintenance.

Enrolment next year is expected to be 10,894 students for the 2009/2010 school year, down 83 from the 10,977 students attending during the 2008/2009 school year.

“Having lived through the really tough times I know it could have been a lot worse,” Taylor said.

He said the worry is if the economy is going to come out of the dip or if division’s are facing something worse next year.

“Like any organization or family you can’t just keep taking out of the reserve to keep things going. There comes a point when you really have to make some serious cuts. I guess the bottom line is we’re happy we haven’t had to make really serious cuts this year.”

Taylor said teaching jobs haven’t needed to be cut. The division continues to have as a priority, along with the province, to reduce class sizes for students between kindergarten to Grade 3 to under 20 students.

Chinook’s Edge was given funding for several new pilot projects for the next year, including career health pathways, which allows students to explore careers in health fields; dual accreditation, which gives students the chance to receive high school and college credits; and technology-mediated learning, which have added to the 2009/2010 budget.

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