Red Deer Public Schools will dip into reserves to help fund its $124-million budget for 2021-22 school year.
The jurisdiction said it will receive the same amount of per pupil funding from the province as it received the previous year. An operations deficit of $4 million for the upcoming school year will be offset by operating reserves which is projected to total $9.6 million by August.
“Unlike other school divisions, we are in a pretty good position with reserves that we have. We were fortunate in that sense,” said school board chair Nicole Buchanan.
She said it was important to Red Deer Public that there were no new school fees in addition to what is already charged.
“We recognize that some people in our community are suffering. They have lost employment. So to implement any school fees would be tough hit in an already difficult time,” Buchanan said.
She said due to the continued unknowns created by COVID-19, the jurisdiction set aside $885,000 in the budget for at-home learning support, and $1 million for a COVID recovery plan for students.
“Our board recognizes going into the 2021-22 school year we are going to be met with a lot of challenges with regards to learning gaps.”
Buchanan said students may also need mental health support.
The district continues to develop its COVID recovery plan and will have it in place for the beginning of the new school year.
“Our initial assessment is that these needs are real, that the additional resources are necessary,” said Bruce Buruma, director of community relations about getting students back to where they should be as soon as possible.