Clearview division facing more cuts

Another budget year means another round of planned teacher cuts for the shrinking rural Clearview School Division.

Another budget year means another round of planned teacher cuts for the shrinking rural Clearview School Division.

The division that encompasses Stettler, Erskine, Donalda and other communities in East Central Alberta has seen enrolments decline over the last decade, and with fewer students comes less provincial funding. And as has become the norm for the division, services are having to be cut while budget deficits bring down the jurisdictional reserves.

Clearview is projecting a deficit of $661,000 for the 2014-15 budget year and expects to cut just over seven teaching positions. The deficit will further eat away at Clearview’s reserves, which will dip below $2 million by 2015.

“We’ve been drawing down our reserves the last few years and that’s a planned thing, but we’re wanting to put the brakes on that,” said superintendent John Bailey.

“This is a long trend in rural Alberta; we’re probably talking a 50-year trend — rural populations are declining. You have to ask yourself how low is too low? There must be a stopping point somewhere, because you need ‘x’ number of people to live in an area and run farms and the rest of it,” said Bailey.

There was a motion from a board trustee in 2012 to consider the closure of low-enrolment schools in Byemoor, Brownfield and Donalda — where per-student education costs are highest — but the effort got no support. While the board and division’s current commitment is to keep the schools open, Bailey said their futures will likely have to be a yearly discussion.

Division administration also has made efforts to increase collaboration between schools in Stettler to cut costs by co-ordinating things like school schedules and the sharing of human and educational resources. Fear of change has scuttled some of those efforts in the immediate term, but Bailey said discussions will likely continue.

Clearview projects to lose about 70 pupils next school year, putting it below 2,400 students across the vast division. But the province’s enrolment projection formula is not projecting any decline, and because of that calculation the division will not see any mitigation funding to keep its revenues at 2013-14 levels.

Associate superintendent Peter Neale said that fact puts the division out a few hundred thousand dollars.

While the division is cutting costs by eliminating teacher positions at rates similar to recent years, Neale said it also wants to explore if services can be maintained by tapping into unrealized funding sources. This year the division plans to contact parents to see if they could and would self-declare as First Nations, Métis or Inuit (FNMI), a designation that brings in additional funds for school jurisdictions. The division has only 16 FNMI-funded students this year.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ways to prevent a kitchen fire

Fire prevention officer releases safety tips

The cost of flushing sanitary wipes is brought to Red Deer city council

More public education is needed about what not to flush down toilets

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month