The Red Deer Public School District forecast deficit isn’t expected to be eliminated by an influx of provincial money.
Funds restored to education by Premier Alison Redford are expected to reduce the anticipated deficit to $1.4 million, however, from a previously forecast $1.9 million.
Associate superintendent of business services, Cody McClintock, said the Red Deer Public School District received an additional $1.4 million as its portion of the $107 million that Redford gave back to education while promising to drive educational reform in the province.
While it would seem that the extra $1.4 million received could easily wipe out most of the district’s projected deficit, McClintock said the solution isn’t as easy as that.
One of the main issues is that student enrolment for last September was 127 fewer than expected. This amounted to an unexpected decline of $800,000 in total per-student provincial grants, said McClintock.
Some public schools also hired more teachers and support staff, which the district decided to keep on in order to keep class sizes in line with provincial targets. “We also ended up with some spending plans that changed during the year,” added McClintock.
He noted that the average class size for kindergarten to Grade 3 in the district is 17.4 students compared to a target of 17, while the district has Grade 4 to 6 classes that are “just a touch over” Alberta Education’s 23-student target.
McClintock called the projected deficit “manageable,” and said the district has enough surplus money in its accounts to balance the budget in the spring.
“We decided to use this money to benefit the kids, and what better way could there be other than to maintain services?”