Public school district to reassess its finances

The Red Deer Public School District has decided to put new funding for teachers’ wages, received over the summer from the provincial government, in the bank for a rainy day.

The Red Deer Public School District has decided to put new funding for teachers’ wages, received over the summer from the provincial government, in the bank for a rainy day.

The Red Deer Public School District board voted on Wednesday night not to touch the money for the moment, with the intention to reassess its position after the Sept. 30 school enrolment numbers are known, which will determine the amount of funding the board receives from the province.

Trustees felt they would likely also wait until after the election to allow the new board to make the final decision on what to do with the money.

As a result of the provincial funding, the Red Deer Public School District won’t have to dip into its reserves as much this school year.

Initially it looked like the public district would have to use $2.3 million of its reserve funds to keep itself out of the red.

Now the district will only have to use a little more than $600,000 of its reserves, after the province agreed to give the division $1.7 million to fund the 2.92 per cent increase to teachers’ salaries scheduled for Sept. 1.

The public district has a budget of close to $100 million.

“That’s good news because one can anticipate that the uncertainty in the provincial government’s funding is going to persist for at least another year and probably more,” said Bill Stuebing, chairman of the Red Deer Public School District.

“The larger our reserves the more likely we are to be able to weather this without doing damage to the programs that we offer in our district.”

Unlike other school districts in the province, there was no plan to cut the close to 545 full-time equivalent teaching positions at Red Deer public schools — which accounts for 640 actual teachers.

Last August, the province clawed back hundreds of thousands of dollars from school districts across the province.

“I was joking tonight about our annual summer surprise, but this year it was a better one,” said Stuebing. “Last year they took away money. This year they gave us money. I like this year better.”

sobrien@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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