Wolf Creek Public Schools will hire more teachers for the 2012-13 school year.
There will be 8.17 full-time equivalent certificated staff added, bringing the total to 387.6 teachers in the district’s 30 schools.
But the trade-off is there will be 213 or 27.25 fewer full-time equivalent support staff in the district.
“We operate within that dollar vacuum,” said Joe Henderson, secretary-treasurer. “When you put something somewhere it’s got to come from somewhere. The pie is always the same size, it’s just a matter of how you cut it. There’s only so much pie.”
The projected cuts are due mainly to the unknown number of severe needs students and a consolidation of two special education programs in the district next year. As well, many of the educational assistants were hired using funding received during the 2011-2012 school year.
Since that time the funding model has changed and the district is unable to sustain the costs.
Earlier this week, Wolf Creek adopted its $83.6 million budget with a projected $1-million deficit for the 2012-13 school year. The board will cover the shortfall by delving into its reserves to maintain programs and staffing levels.
Henderson said the status quo budget is based on worse case scenarios in terms of projected enrolments and funding.
“In recent years we’ve seen higher estimates of deficits than has actually transpired in October when we re-do the budget,” he said.
“The reason we do this is to be conservative and make sure we are not over-staffed going into next year.”
Like many other school jurisdictions, Wolf Creek is concerned about the reduction in the inclusive education transition funding in the 2013-2014 school year. The district will take a $1.1 million hit or 23 per cent when the funding comes to an end.
“That will have some rather far reaching impact,” said Henderson.
“You still have to deliver the programs. You are going to have to take from regular programming to supplement those other programs or you are going to have to change how you do those programs, which is sometimes difficult. That runs into student needs and parental expectations.”
As well the teachers contract with the province expires on Aug. 31.
Henderson said the district budgeted conservatively for the anticipated increase in salary and benefits.
“But who knows whether that is enough,” said Henderson. “That continues to be somewhat of a unknown and a risk. One of the things we’re watching on the horizon is the impact of teacher demands or the working conditions in the agreement –– whether that comes as part of the tripartite (province, school boards and teachers) or we have to negotiate locally. Those things are often going to have more cost implications than a simple salary increase.”