Provincial Budget Impacts on Parkland School Division
November 5, 2019 - The Provincial budget was released October 24, almost two months into the Board’s fiscal year, making any adjustments difficult. Analysis from administration shows government funding to Parkland School Division (PSD) was reduced, contrary to suggestions from the government that the budget would be status quo.
In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, PSD received from Alberta Education just over $4.2 million dollars less than was received in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. That equates to a decrease of 3.35%, despite the enrolment increase of 293 students, or 2.6%.
The Division also experienced an unexpected and considerable increase to insurance premiums. As a member of Alberta School Boards Insurance Exchange (ASBIE), the Division will be impacted by a 274% increase in property insurance premiums, and an overall annual insurance premium increase of 150%, or just over an $1.3 million increase annually.
Once you factor overall expenses with overall revenue for 2019-2020, the budget shortfall is $3.7 million.
“It is not possible for Parkland School Division to absorb this decrease in funding without impacting schools” stated Board Chair Lorraine Stewart. “There will be ongoing challenges dealing with the existing deficit considering that education funding is projected to remain flat for the foreseeable future.”
“Thankfully, our division is in a position to address some of our cuts this year by drawing on our existing Operating Reserves. Our intention is to minimize the impact on schools and classrooms. We will still provide supportive learning environments, meaningful experiences and assure healthy relationships, thanks to a dedicated and professional staff. We just ask for patience from staff, students and parents as we find our way forward.”
In order to address the expected shortfall, the Division re-examined current year expenditures and are in the process of decreasing expenditures by approximately $800,000. This may include a reduction of staffing levels this school year.
At the regular Board meeting of November 5, Trustees approved the remaining shortfall of $2.9 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to be offset by transferring funds from operating reserves. This transfer would decrease operating reserves to only 1.71% of the total operating budget. The remaining ongoing deficit will need to be addressed next fiscal year as there will not be sufficient operating reserves to use that same strategy for future budgets.
As the province has not budgeted for an increase in educational funding for the next four years while the enrolment in the Division continues to increase, Parkland School Division will prepare for increased class sizes and declines in service levels moving forward. Tough decisions are on the horizon and the Board and its administration will not make those lightly and will minimize the impact on our students as much as possible.
For further information, contact:
Superintendent of Schools