School boards have to look hard at future

By MURRAY CRAWFORD and RANDY FIEDLER Advocate staff Though the Red Deer Public School district can make do this year with the cuts outlined in the March 7 provincial budget, officials say in the long term they will have to examine program offerings and class size.

By MURRAY CRAWFORD

and RANDY FIEDLER

Advocate staff

Though the Red Deer Public School district can make do this year with the cuts outlined in the March 7 provincial budget, officials say in the long term they will have to examine program offerings and class size.

Cuts from the provincial budget amount to $2.5-million less in the district’s funding, which has a budget of $110 million this year.

Lawrence Lee, Red Deer public school board chair, said in the short term they can manage this kind of cut to funding, but in the long term it could have implications on programs and class sizes.

“We’re talking about adjustments,” said Lee. “We’re talking about a review of our current programming, we’re looking at how our class sizes fit at the higher grades, not the primary level.

“We’re looking at potential increases in class size.”

The biggest cut came in freezing base instructional grants for three years and many other programs were also curtailed, trustees heard at Wednesday’s board meeting.

“We anticipate we’ll have 250 new students next year and that will mitigate the hit from the budget,” said deputy superintendent Stu Henry.

“But there could be troubling consequences in the next few years. Our projections show those numbers will keep growing year after year.

“In three years, we could have 600 to 800 more students, which is another whole school.”

The province also cut the amount it pays for installing modular classrooms, costing the district as much as $350,000 for unbudgeted transportation, setup and construction costs.

“It was a big surprise for Normandeau and West Park Elementaries,” said Henry of the schools which will get two modulars each.

“We have to put those portables in because we need every classroom space we can get right now. You pile it on top of a bad budget and it’s not great.”

The board will pay using capital reserves and advise Albeta Education of concerns over the change.

“We’re losing funding in some important initatives,” said Lee.

Administrative costs were also trageted for cuts by the budget, but Lee said the school district was spared from the worst of it because of their structure.

“Our jurisdiction is one of the lowest operating governance budgets in the provice,” said Lee.

“We operate at 3.2 per cent of our overall budget. The province has now said school boards that operate at around four per cent of the budget will experience a 10-per-cent cut-back in that funding.

“I believe we’re going to be able to make do for this year coming. But certainly, does it allow us to continue to operate in that fashion? I would say no. It’s just not sustainable.”

Paul Mason, Red Deer Catholic Schools Regional Board superintendent, said they are still crunching the numbers from the budget and will share the information at the next board meeting in April.

“We’re still seeking clarification from Alberta education on a number of matters and then we’ll be able to examine our budget in detail as we prepare for our next school year,” said Mason.

Just Posted

Signatures Our Best to You Spring show starts Thursday in Red Deer

The event runs until Saturday at Westerner Park

Red Deer mayor wants to discuss status of projects promised before the election with new UCP government

A new homeless shelter and start on Red Deer hospital expansion were promised by New Democrats

Red Deer murder suspect arrested

Quentin Lee Strawberry was arrested on Tuesday, says RCMP

Updated: Industrial fabrication shop in Red Deer destroyed in morning fire

About 30 workers got out safely before building in north end gutted

Updated: Industrial fabrication shop in Red Deer destroyed in morning fire

About 30 workers got out safely before building in north end gutted

Inflation rises 1.9% on higher prices for fresh vegetables, mortgage costs

OTTAWA — Canada’s annual inflation was up last month as price pressures… Continue reading

Netflix adds 9.6M subscribers in 1Q as competition heats up

SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix kicked off the year with the biggest subscriber… Continue reading

Liberals find anti-Trudeau sentiment on campaign trail in Prince Edward Island

OTTAWA — When voters in Prince Edward Island go to the polls… Continue reading

Officer tells of finding body at trial for B.C. dad accused of killing daughters

VANCOUVER — A police officer choked up Tuesday as he recalled finding… Continue reading

Man faces murder charges in slayings of two men, two women in Penticton, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. — A former city employee described as a hard-working, civic-minded… Continue reading

A look at Alberta’s elections since the province was created in 1905

EDMONTON — A chronology of Alberta elections: Nov. 9, 1905: Lawyer Alexander… Continue reading

Connor scores in OT as Jets beat Blues to even series

Jets 2 Blues 1 (OT) (Series tied 2-2) ST. LOUIS — Kyle… Continue reading

Teen tennis star Felix Auger-Aliassime has special energy, intensity: coaches

Minutes after speaking with reporters about a tough semifinal loss at the… Continue reading

Most Read