DUNMORE, AB – From new business classes to launching a hockey academy, the Prairie Rose School Division has seen plenty of change this year.
Releasing their 2018-19 fall budget on Tuesday, the division is increasing its spending from their spring projections on those instructing many of these new classes.
The division will see a deficit of $99,610 this year, up from their $23,375 projected deficit from their preliminary budget released in May.
But, secretary-treasurer Ryan Boser said they’re comfortable spending a bit more money after coming under budget at the tail end of the 2017-18 school year.
“We got a sense in the springtime that we were going to come in under budget, that was after the preliminary budget was completed,” said Boser. “So, you use that information that you have to help generate the budget decisions going forward.”
Enrolment has been an issue for the division over the past few years, with 85 students leaving since last fall mainly for larger centres.
Board chair Stuart Angle said they’ve been adding new programs like the South Alberta Hockey Academy to try to attract more students to stay.
“It's held our numbers more stable by adding these programs because they're programs that students will choose, and choose to come to Prairie Rose,” said Angle.
Because of this, Boser said most of the increased spending comes in the form of additional staffing for these new programs.
“It was important to us to ensure that new initiatives were staffed appropriately, and ensuring that we have the appropriate amount of staffing out there to support our students,” he said.
Angle agreed with Boser that this was the right time to earmark additional spending, which includes an increase of over $375,000 in salaries and benefits to current and future staff.
“Our first duty is to service our students providing the best that we possibly can and that's what we try to do,” he said.
Capital projects won’t be impacted by this year’s budget, including the modernization of Eagle Butte High School.
Boser said the funding from the provincial government isn’t changing and they’re still planning to complete the modernization by August.
“There's no change in the funding that we're going to get for that project and we continue to go ahead with that,” he said. “We've made really good progress with Eagle Butte and where we are [at].”
While it’s a jump of over $76,000 in Prairie Rose’s deficit from the spring, the $99,610 mark is actually down from last fall’s budgeted deficit of just over $160,000.
Boser said they put more of an emphasis in comparing their fall budgets, since the spring preliminary budgets rely mostly on projections for the next school year.
“Just with the data and the information that you have in the fall, you can put together a much more sound budget that your stakeholders can take a look at and know that this is what we're sticking to for 2018-19,” he said.
Along with passing the 2018-19 budget, the board also passed their audited financial statements from last year, along with their three-year educational plan.
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