Restoration of education funding ‘a good news story’: superintendant

The superintendant of Chinook’s Edge School Division said restored funding sends a positive message about education being a priority for the new provincial government.

The superintendant of Chinook’s Edge School Division said restored funding sends a positive message about education being a priority for the new provincial government.

Kurt Sacher said on Monday that the funding — announced by Rachel Notley’s NDP government late last week ­— is a “good news story.”

“They went further, to stop the bleeding, if you will, in some of the other areas that were cut back. It hasn’t completely resolved all of our problems but it’s definitely a very positive gesture.”

The government restored facilities and maintenance (non-teaching) funding that was going to be cut by the previous Progressive Conservative government. It will also now allow school boards to use reserves.

And the government provide funding for 12,000 new students expected provincewide in the next school year.

The province will be also provide an additional $103 million in education funding, something that was not anticipated by the school district. Chinook’s Edge will now see their overall operating funding go from $102.4 million to $105.7 million next year.

Sacher said Chinook’s Edge school board took a bit of a risk reaching into emergency reserves to move forward with their budget. They anticipated the NDP government would allow them to use reserves. The school district needs to use $700,000 in emergency reserves to replace their depleted fleet of school buses.

The school board was also banking on getting funding for new students. They are anticipating between 125 and 150 more students, which could result in $700,000 to $800,000 in new funding. The district has about 11,000 students now.

The key message is that the board had already stretched the envelope by digging really deeply into reserves and were looking to go further down that road, Sacher said.

Significant cuts over the past three or four years to grants for facilities and maintenance grants would have seen the district go into a $150,000 to $200,000 deficit next year. But the new money will restore this, he said. The district has already made $600,000 in reductions to this part of the budget.

Where schools used to have a full-time custodian, they are no longer able to do that, and where they had three or four plumbers, they now have two, in the large rural district, Sacher said.

“We believe we’re right on the line of whether we can make ends meet with that low of a staff level on the maintenance side.”

As far as reserves go, there are emergent things that happen so the district needs to have reserves. “It might only happen once in 10 years but you need to be ready for it.”

Chinook’s Edge accumulated operating surplus at the end of last August was only half of the provincial average, and headed lower, Sacher said.

“If government doesn’t step up like they have now, we could actually run into cash flow issues where you have to borrow money to pay the bills as you wait for funding to come in, and there’s additional interest costs for a school division that gets too low on reserves.

“You do want to have some level of reserve in your budget and for this board … three to five per cent has always been their goal.”

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Most Read