Living Sky School Division approved its new final amended budget at its last meeting, after a long decision-making process in deliberating on the budget for the next school year.
The budget, as originally approved May 10, reflected $6 million in reductions for the 2017-18 school year, to balance the budget and cover the deficit. From the $6 million, the division had a cash deficit of $2.8 million from the 2016-17 school year, and then another roughly $3.2 million reduction from a shortfall in provincial grant funding for the 2017-18 school year.
“We would rather we wouldn’t have been in that situation where we had to make the reductions we did,” interim director of education Randy Fox said. “But that was the situation. We are never happy to have to see fewer teachers for our students, for example. That’s not something we would ever want. But, unfortunately, reductions in staff, throughout the division have been part of the reality here. We’re not happy about it, but that is just the way it is. We’re going to make do the best we can.
“There was some money shifted to support some extra-curricular [activities],” Fox said. “There was one position at least that would have been gone but we have found some money to support that.”
The school division will cover its $504,000 remaining cash deficit in the budget by transferring money from its reserves for capital purchases for 2017-18 to balance the budget.
In the division’s letter to parents, Fox said: “Although difficult decisions had to be made, the board kept student well-being and achievement at the forefront of all decision-making.”
The school division advised parents when it first proposed the budget reductions and kept them updated throughout the decision-making process. It also invited parent and staff feedback.
The budget saved roughly $3.4 million in staff cutbacks, which included 16 teaching positions, and 22 temporary educational assistant positions. Central office and janitorial staff were also included.