Ponoka’s public school division set to deal with massive deficit

Wolf Creek Public Schools loses more than 200 students, means shortfall of $1.9 million

An unanticipated loss of students last September has caused quite the financial conundrum for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).

Trustees of WCPS were dished the rough news that the division is projecting a deficit of $1.94 million at the end of the current school year at its regular meeting on Dec. 14. The figure comes from the fall budget update that was presented by WCPS secretary treasurer Roger Hall and will now be sent to Alberta Education.

This is an additional $1.7 million shortfall from the $221,000 into the red that was projected in the budget report presented this past spring.

The biggest reason for the drastic change is the division saw a lot fewer students return to class than was projected.

“We lost 224 students, with 154 of those being in Blackfalds,” said WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell.

WCPS expected to see some students move to Red Deer Catholic Schools new school that opened this fall in Blackfalds, but was shaken to see such a big number depart.

“We knew there was a potential of some shifting to the new school and each of our three schools monitored the situation, asking parents their intentions right up until June,” Lovell added.

“However, it wasn’t until late August and September that we saw the students moving. We do our best on student projections and have usually been quite skilled in hitting those numbers. However, this change was certainly not expected and we had no strong indication this was going to happen.”

Lovell noted this situation clearly indicates there continues to be a lot of volatility among the population in central Alberta as the economic and job challenges are still forcing parents to make changes.

The largest decrease came in Kindergarten to Grade 3 in Blackfalds at 72 fewer students, while in WCPS overall the loss in K-9 was 192, which includes a drop of 40 students in Rimbey, something Lovell added was also unexpected.

With the loss of students came a subsequent drop in revenue of just over $1.2 million to $89.39 million from the spring projection, meanwhile expenses increased to $91.33, a jump of $504,000.

That has meant administration has to work quickly to figure out how to address the shortfall.

“Administration has already started discussions on what needs to be contemplated, the caveat being we will be waiting to see what the provincial budget will have in store. However, it’s been communicated from Alberta Education that things will be tight and they will be working to manage and balance the needs of the whole province.”

Lovell added that the discussions will consider forecasts and analysis of major areas for WCPS spending with an understanding of maintaining the focal points identified in its three-year plan.

“One desire of the board for the past several years has been keeping a $2 million reserve available, which will be a challenge on a $90 million budget as that projected reserve is now $1.44 million,” he said.

budgetWCPS

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Town selling the airport to Ponoka Flying Club

Agreement is for 25 years with option to buy back

RCMP on hunt for man who has skipped court

Public urged to call 911 if they spot him

Update: Local bull riders help Canada to fourth at PBR Global Cup

Lambert, Hansen manage to earn two of Canadian team’s good rides

Ponoka County wants more information prior to approving permit

Council not satisfied, wants better details about work site and other issues

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, so barricades should come down

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

Federal minister pledges to meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs in B.C. over natural gas pipeline

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they are visiting Mohawk territory

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Blockade on CN rail line in Edmonton removed, injunction granted

The blockade consisted of wooden pallets on the tracks and signs that say ‘No Consent’

Canadians aboard coronavirus-ridden cruise ship to return home tonight

Among the infected are 47 Canadians who will have to remain in Japan for treatment

Carbon risk for Alberta’s public pension manager questioned

AIMCo says nearly $115 billion invested in carbon-intensive industries is on par with other funds

Worker, shocked at future Amazon warehouse in Nisku, has died: family

Colton Quast, 25, was taken to hospital and put in a medically induced coma

Blockade supporting Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on rail line in Edmonton

‘Cuzzins for Wet’suwet’en’ post pics of wooden crates on line, signs saying ‘No Pipelines on Stolen Land’

Higher costs should kill Trans Mountain pipeline, federal opposition says

Most recent total was $12.6 billion, much higher than a previous $7.4-billion estimate

Most Read