‘Number of options’ discussed to contend with budget shortfalls

At the Clearview school board meeting last Thursday, associate superintendent Peter Neale presented updated information

  • Nov. 13, 2013 2:00 p.m.

By Colleen Warren

Clearview School Division

At the Clearview school board meeting last Thursday, associate superintendent Peter Neale presented updated information regarding the fall budget for the 2013-14 school year, including a number of options to deal with budget shortfalls.

While the province has been trimming funding in recent years, Clearview has been following a planned course of action by spending reserves to lessen the impact of funding decreases on programming.

Since August 2009, Clearview reserves have been drawn down by about $2.8 million to sustain operations and services across the school division. The board believes reserves are now close to where they should be, and the division must now look for ways to manage expenditures going forward.

The board strongly believes that available resources should be used to provide the very best programming possible.

While centralized operations are a necessary and important part of the system, the board considers it very important to have as much funding as possible going directly to schools.

Based on the information presented, the board directed senior administration to finalize the 2012-13 financial statements and transfer a net total of $382,618 in unrestricted reserves to cover funding shortfalls across the division, including:

— $248,755 for Stettler Outreach School due to funding shortfalls;

— $15,473 for Stettler Elementary School and Stettler Middle School;

— $92,000 to pay for the Alberta government funding claw-back announced in its spring budget;

— $43,439 to rebuild the Contingency and Flexibility Fund;

— $40,919 to pay for unbudgeted increases in sick leave costs;

— $26,858 to pay for the Clearview share of paving the road by the Stettler bus and maintenance shops.

The shortfalls are partly offset by contributions of $50,000 from the administration reserve and $34,826 from the technology reserve being put back into schools.

The board also directed senior administration to finalize the 2013-14 fall budget, including:

— Reducing trustee expenditures to the same level as in the 2011-12 school year.

— Keeping all school programs going with no major changes during the school year.

— Continuing to use $300,000 from the Equity of Opportunity grant to replace the Fuel Price Contingency grant cut by the province in its spring budget. That enables the division to continue operating all current bus routes and keep ride times as low as possible.

Reducing expenditures in building operation and maintenance to address an unsustainable deficit of $510,990 projected for this budget. The deficit is mainly due to provincial funding cuts and cost increases for utilities.

The board agreed to reductions in maintenance services across the division and having administration explore other potential reductions, such as closing unused classrooms to save expenditures in the operations and maintenance budgets.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Clearview school board will held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28, at the board office in Stettler. Regular board meetings are open to the public.

— School Board Report

 

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