MEDICINE HAT, AB – Trustees with the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education are praising their new budget as getting them closer to an overall surplus.
On Tuesday night, the Catholic Board voted unanimously to approve their budget for the 2018-19 school year, which will see a deficit of $59,735.
That’s significantly better than their projections in the fall, which would have seen a deficit of over $525,000 heading into 2018-19.
Board chair Dick Mastel said they’ve been able to cut back in areas like staffing numbers, without having to let any employees go.
“We’ve had attrition from teachers that have retired that haven’t all been replaced,” said Mastel. “We’ve reconfigured some of our classes, and it’s going through the budget line by line and finding savings where we can find them.”
There was some concern regarding limited growth in the number of teachers hired by the Catholic Board in 2018-19, however class sizes remain manageable according to Mastel and other trustees.
Revenue was up by $237,000, which is mainly buoyed by an expected increase of 64 students for next fall, which will bring in an estimated $445,000.
Capital project spending is taking a back seat in 2018-19 however, as the Catholic Board doesn’t have any more major projects following the construction of Ecole St. John Paul II School in Southlands and the recent modernization of Monsignor McCoy High.
The topic of administration spending did come up however, as trustee David Leahy made the argument that not enough was being cut in that department to satisfy the province’s recommendations.
A motion was made to eliminate the current $100/day out of town per diem for retired trustees, however the motion was defeated three to two.
Mastel said the Medicine Hat Catholic Board sits near the bottom of administration spending when it comes to the rest of Alberta and thought there should not have been a change.
“I think we’re well below the numbers that we can spend on administration, and have been for many years,” he said. “I think we’re very lean in terms of administration spending.”
Of the $32.7 million in expenses for the upcoming school year, 77% will be earmarked towards teachers salaries and benefits in the division.
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