Wolf Creek Public Schools board of trustees and Superintendent Larry Jacobs spent June 3 preparing themselves for anticipated funding changes now that the New Democratic Party (NDP) is exercising its power.
“We anticipate that Wolf Creek will see an additional $2.6 million more, given the revisions that have been put in place by the current government,” said secretary-treasurer Joe Henderson.
Looking back on the budget the division was dealing with when the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party was in power, trustee Lorrie Jess recalled Wolf Creek was short $3.4 million.
“Comparing to what we would have received under the previous funding structure the government put in place, what we have today, about $2,6 million additional dollars,” Henderson explained.
He says one the biggest changes included in the $2.6 million is funding growth, “The previous budget was not going to fund any growth in students you may have,” he added.
“It wasn’t just in the basic student (funding), either. That was in transportation, that was in inclusion, that was having impact on facilities’ grant, anything that was based on the student number,” he added.
Another significant change was the return of the basic operating grant per student back to a full amount, says Henderson. “If you recall, they (PC) tried to split it into an A and a B.”
The A group included 85 per cent of the operating grant. “That was supposed reflect approximately what school boards were spending that grant on,” said Henderson.
“And then the other 15 per cent was receiving a 3.1 per cent reduction,” he stated.
“They (NDP) returned that to just one grant and increased the funding to 1.8 per cent,” said Henderson.
For WCPS, this covers about $1.8 million of the $2.6 million total.
Other areas seeing change include the move of all other grant areas to current rates. “All of those grants with the exception of transportation and Inclusive Learning, we’re going to receive a 3.1 per cent reduction,” said Henderson.
Transportation and Inclusive Learning have been fully restored. “That’s the extra $800,000 that comes to the division,” said Henderson.
“So where we were in a negative, we’re now going to be in a positive,” he added. “Those were beneficial moves to us.”
Jacobs says the division was made aware of the changes Thursday, May 30 and told the trustees everything was still a working progress.
With the changes to funding he is looking at moving forward, distributing the resources equitably. “Now it can’t be equal from school to school.”
“You also talked about literacy and numeracy so we want to support that as we move forward. You talked about teacher excellence so we know we have to address keeping our teachers current and giving them the skills that they need,” he added.
Funding increase will also benefit First Nations students.