Clearview Public Schools facing budget woes

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  • Jun. 15, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Like many other school divisions across Alberta, Clearview Public Schools faces problems with the upcoming 2011 – 2012 school year budget.

Due to decreasing enrolments, teacher salary raises and decreased provincial funding, many schools are experiencing difficulties financing their budgets — Clearview Public School Division is no different.

“It’s definitely a challenging year for all school boards,” said Clearview supt. John Bailey.

Although the budget is not yet completed, Clearview will have a large deficit to face for the 2011-2012 school year. The deficit has caused many, including Bailey, to re-examine the school board’s spending.

“Everything will be looked at,” said Bailey.

A major expense the board has faced is extra cost in transportation. Division buses travel upwards of 9,000 kilometres per day — approximately 1.9 million kilometres per school year.

“Luckily we don’t have to run the buses during the summer, but with the rising cost of diesel fuel, it is quickly becoming a major expense for us,” said Bailey.

The main reason for the cuts to education across the province is the Government of Alberta’s financial problem.

The province’s deficit currently sits at $61.7 million. The certificated teachers under the Alberta Teachers Association are also entitled to a 4.54-percent wage increase, as part of a five-year deal with the provincial government.

“We’re disappointed that we’re faced with some decisions,” said Bailey. “But I also understand the province’s side. Money is tight for them, too but it’s disappointing that school boards across the province are cut, cut, cut.”

Although the news is disappointing for Bailey and the school board, he remains optimistic funding will come through.

“I’ve been through this where they make announcements about cuts, then I wake up one morning in the summer and hear on the radio that there is funding announced,” said Bailey.

“But we’re going to make decisions on what we know and what we have, and if something does shake out and come through, that’s a bonus and it makes our job easier.”

Clearview Public School Division is, by far, not the only school board forced to make tough decisions regarding their budgets.

According to the Alberta Teachers Association, there will be 1,000 fewer teaching jobs across the province for the upcoming school year.

The job cuts have spurred protests by teachers, but Premier Ed Stelmach said on May 27 that the teachers themselves are to blame for the job cuts.

“We were at the table, they were at the table as well. But what they wanted was simply unachievable,” said Stelmach. “We asked for consideration. It didn’t happen and, as a result, some teachers, especially temporary teachers, will not have a job.”

The provincial government is in a cost-cutting mode to combat its growing deficit.

Nearby in Bashaw, students staged a walk-out protest on June 10 to voice their displeasure for cuts to the arts program at Bashaw School.