ADAM JACKSON/Black Press
Clearview Public School Division has approved its 2011 – 2012 budget — a $32,371,000 budget with an $816,000 deficit.
Although the board has received extra funding that will cover teacher salary increases, decreasing enrolments and lack of provincial funding in other areas have the division cutting in a few areas — including the termination of 17.5 staff positions, most of whom are support staff.
The board projects an enrolment decrease of 90 students, which equates to 3.6 per cent of all students in the division.
“We receive $6,496.71 per student, so although that number seems low, it has a major effect on our income,” said board of trustees chair Ken Checkel.
The drop in enrolment equals a loss of $585,000 for the school board.
Although the deficit is a large one to deal with, the board does have reserves in place to deal with the decreased funding.
The reserve — which currently sits at $3.6 million — is something that the board is adamant about keeping strong.
“It’s all about conservative spending both at the board level and at the school level,” said Checkel.
“We need to make sure that we have funds in place for any extra costs that come up.”
The board has also had to deal with rising certificated teachers’ salaries as a part of a five-year deal with the Alberta Teachers Association and the provincial government. Salaries have increased by 4.54 per cent.
To cut costs, Clearview has completed a transportation review and, after considering cutting nine of its 57 bus routes, the board has decided to cut only six and cover the extra costs with its reserve fund.
“Something that we always look at with transportation is the amount of students who ride the bus for over two hours,” said Checkel.
With the current decision to cut six routes, four per cent of all students in the board will have ride times of more than two hours, while if nine routes were cut, the number would be closer to nine per cent.
With the termination of six routes, the board will also have to cut six bus driver positions.
According to Checkel, the bus drivers who live closest to the routes are given first priority, but the bus drivers affected by the terminations have been notified already.
Cuts to support staff will be decided at the school level.
Although support staff — including custodians and teachers’ aides — were not entitled to the same raise that certificated teachers received, Clearview made the decision to match the salary increase.
“We value all staff the same,” said Checkel. “The board thought it was appropriate to give them a raise of the same amount.”
Clearview is by far not the only school board dealing with a large deficit for the 2011 – 2012 year, though. Nearby, Wolf Creek Public Schools is facing a $292,228 deficit and was forced to terminate more than 40 full-time positions.