Alberta’s largest rural school jurisdiction balanced its $122-million budget with little impact on the classroom for the upcoming school year.
Chinook’s Edge School Division treasurer Susan Roy said the board received $3.2 million less in grants — $2 million on the instruction side and $1.2 million in facilities and transportation — from the provincial government.
Roy said the district has tried to stay as far away from the classroom teaching time as possible when finding efficiencies. After putting the budget in place, there will be $900,000 less in the reserves and 15 fewer teachers.
Roy said the good news is there were enough retirements in the district to cover the deficit. The positions were not filled. Last fall, there were 574.5 teachers and as of Thursday, there are 559.5 teachers in the division.
“The division is working really hard to make sure every day dollar we receive from the provincial government and parents in terms of fees is spent as wisely as we can for the students,” said Roy.
Roy said when the provincial budget came down in March, they were not reeling from the shortfall because the district had been looking at tightening its belt for several years. The district looked at every school, timetable and program to find ways to save money.
Roy said the plan has been to redirect any savings to programs but in light of the provincial grant shortfall, they used savings to balance the budget.
Student enrolment is expected to remain roughly at current level of 10,736 in its 41 schools.