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Saturday , 26 September 2020

SPERD says provincial budget will have an impact on its schools

St. Paul Education recognizes that the province had many difficult decisions to make in Fall Budget 2019.

Our Board of Trustees and senior administration have been reviewing the impact of this recent provincial budget on the current school year and beyond.

We are committed to keeping our parents and the school community informed.

When the Board of Trustees approved our budget last spring, they were conscious of the state of Alberta’s economy. As a very cautious approach was taken with regards to staffing and overall spending, we do not anticipate having to make any mid-year teacher cuts.

Fortunately, we have modest reserves to help absorb the impact of some of these reductions for this year. Using these reserves will also minimize disruptions to student learning and keep our class sizes amongst the lowest in the province. Although the government has committed to maintaining an $8.2 billion budget for education, the manner in which it was distributed to school divisions has changed.

St. Paul Education is projecting a shortfall of $1.6 million to its annual budget.

The Province announced late last week some new flexibility to reallocate funding that is normally meant for building preservation and upkeep. As a result of this change, the Division will be using some of this funding to offset the $1.6 million deficit down to $800,000.

This is a one-time occurrence that only helps in the present school year and is not sustainable long-term. Currently, 77% of our $58 million annual budget goes towards staffing.

There are also many other fixed costs that continue to rise.

For example, there was an unexpected rise in school division insurance premiums across the province. Our insurance increased by over 175%, resulting in an ongoing, annual expense of $994,000.

The Division is possibly expecting further reductions when the provincial government tables its budget in the spring along with the revealing of a new funding formula for education. These reductions could mean we have to reduce our spending by close to $2 million. With this in mind, we are now undertaking a thorough review of every level of the jurisdiction.

All areas and departments will be evaluated in order to protect the classroom. Despite our best efforts, we worry that our current levels of operation and services will be unsustainable.

Similar to other school divisions, we anticipate that next year there may be changes in programming and services, including a possible increase in class sizes due to reductions in staff.

Unfortunately, parents can also likely expect increases in transportation and other school fees. This budget will require us to make difficult choices that will have impacts on students, families and staff.

St. Paul Education is making every effort to maximize our budget while ensuring our students receive the best level of service.

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