Chinook’s Edge and RDCRS school boards facing upwards of $2 million shortfall

Insurance increases and funding cuts have caused shortfalls for local school boards

The two school boards for Sylvan Lake school are facing budget shortfalls north of at least $2 million each.

Both Chinook’s Edge School Division and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools are facing budgetary shortfalls due to the funding available from the Province.

RDCRS says they are facing a shortfall of $2 million while Chinook’s Edge says theirs is $2.8 million, or about two per cent.

School boards across Alberta are facing dramatic cuts to provincial funding, coupled with rising insurance costs.

Chinook’s Edge says insurance costs for the school division have increased by $1 million.

For RDCRS a major factor to the funding cuts was the removal of class size funding from the province.

“A key impact came with the reallocation of funding for class size and classroom improvement to support student enrolment growth across the province. As a result, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools … will face higher deficits than originally planned,” a press release from RDCRS said.

The uncertainty of funds and working with limited resources is not a new idea for local school boards. While waiting for the provincial budget to come down, the school boards were prepared and anticipated funding shortfalls.

However, with actual numbers now known more adjustments need to be made.

“In preparation for projected funding changes, we reduced our allocations to schools and some programs by two per cent for the start of the 2019-2020 school year,” said Paul Mason, superintendent for RDCRS.

Mason added the changes made prior to the school year has helped to offset a large percentage of the $2 million shortfall the division is facing.

“We will use our reserves to eliminate the remaining deficit, but we also are concerned about funding allocations going forward,” Mason said.

School boards anticipated using reserve funds to make up the cuts for this school year, but the actual deficits go beyond what was originally planned.

RDCS says the cuts to the budget will ultimately have an effect on classrooms, programs and students.

Chinook’s Edge says they are moving ahead with hope for the future, and confident in their actions.

“We are hopeful that the government’s funding formula and allocation model announcement next spring will address the complexity of our rural context. Until then we are moving forward making the best possible decisions we can for our students,” a press release from Chinook’s Edge states.

As school divisions continue to grow, the boards are concerned with future funding and how it will affect school budgets.

Stephen Merredew, Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 80 president representing teachers in RDCRS, says there is concern students will not have access to the supports they need.

“Unfortunately, these budget cuts likely means that more students, especially those who require additional learning supports, may not have access to tools and resources that they need to fully realize their potential, despite having the very best teachers in their classrooms,” Merredew said.

Chinook’s Edge says they will be “intentional in deliberations over how each dollar supports learning.”

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