BY AMELIA NAISMITH
Wolf Creek Public School’s $1.62 million deficit for the upcoming academic year is completely covered by reserves, officials said.
The school district’s operational reserves total $5.75 million, the capital reserves $2.64 million and the unrestricted net assets equal $317,467.
Roger Hall, assistant secretary-treasurer, projects $83 million in revenue and $84.8 million in expenditures.
“If we didn’t have the reserves and stuff to carry forward and play with you’d see more reductions in staffing and programming than what you’re seeing with this budget,” said Joe Henderson, secretary-treasurer.
School boards across the province were hit by the provincial government’s budget and Hall said WCPS will see a significant decrease in funding. Provincial funding is down $2 million and there’s a decrease of $179,000 from the federal government as well.
Of the total deficit, $805,000 comes from schools and instruction support. The school’s subgroup itself is actually looking at a surplus of $130,079 while instruction support runs a deficit of $935,000.
“The $935,000 is primarily distributed in the inclusive (education) area,” Hall explained.
“Right now we have allocation that’s available for inclusive ed.”
WCPS carried a balance of $893,000 forward from spring allocations; it was left as reserve. In the fall, Amber Hester, assistant superintendent of student services, will allocate the money to inclusive education students.
The transportation department is also running a deficit. The fuel rebate program was dissolved, which provided up to $400,000.
“That was when gas was $1.10,” said Trustee Lorrie Jess, who’s concerned how rising fuel prices will affect that budget line.”
Hall added that is definitely one of the budget risks. “It is something that could potentially occur.”
Hall is projecting an overall reduction in funding of $290,200 for transportation.
Jurisdiction reserves took a $2 million hit; dropping from $7.2 million to $5.7 million. Total revenues are also down $2.3 million. Part of the decrease comes from the lack of the fuel program as well as the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement program, which equalled $491,000.
However, not every area was hit. There were increases in gifts and donations and mitigation funding.
Henderson said the mitigation funding is a new grant to ease boards into the funding cuts made by the province.
The average teacher cost decreased, contributing to the smaller deficit.
Of the board’s total funding, 95% comes from the government and 80% of the total budget covers staffing alone.
“When anything has to change in a school you have to look at cuts to staffing, basically,” said Hall.
WCPS in down almost 10 teachers and 30 non-certified staff members. There’s also a projected 90 students decrease for the 2013/14 budget said Hall. Enrolment decreases lead to funding decreases.
Hall added the expenditures for the district have also decreased by $2.7 million.