Roger Hall

Roger Hall

Wolf Creek Public Schools projecting $221,000 deficit next school year

The budget being sent to the province by WCPS will see them dip into contingency fund

Changes in revenue along with adjustments on the expense side means a deficit budget for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).

WCPS secretary treasurer Roger Hall presented trustees at the regular meeting June 15 with the 2017-18 budget of slightly less than $90.82 million, which outstrips revenue for the coming school year by a little more than $221,000.

The budget, which was passed by trustees, will now be sent to Alberta Education with the addition that the deficit will be covered by taking that amount out of a $2 million operational reserve fund.

Hall added any draw down of the reserve may be lessened if a surplus is found once the audit has been completed on the 2016-17 fiscal year. However, that may also be offset by a potential increase in teaching costs as a result of the yet to be ratified contract.

This budget includes a projected increase of 116 students and no increase for other staffing costs. There is also no allowance for any jump in outside services, supplies or what may rise as a result of a higher provincial carbon tax.

A further risk Hall explained is the Alberta economy, which hit the division in the current school year.

“Typically, we are conservative with our student projections, but as we saw last fall we didn’t achieve our enrolment projection,” he said.

“The saving grace there was that we had a surplus from the previous school year, which helped to compensate for the drop in enrolment. I think that was an anomaly, with what happened to the economy, though it is a risk.”

On the revenue side, Alberta Education’s funding will hit $83.67 million — a jump of about $1.38 million over last year’s budget — and is due to the projected hike in students plus $473,000 to compensate for the fees that can no longer be charged by school boards.

The change has also meant a reduction of more than $900,000 in fees that will be collected as compared to what was budgeted last year, where fees expected were about $2.22 million.

Federal government revenue, for on-reserve students who attend WCPS schools, is expected to drop to $2.48 million.

Despite the budget being in the red, expenses will be about $455,00 lower than last year’s budget.

Cutting positions at WCPS central office and phasing out other support staff positions is where much of the savings were made.

The budget doesn’t include two provincial funding announcements — the Classroom Improvement Fund and School Nutrition Plan — as the government has yet to approve those allocations.

Also included in the budget are the WCPS operating and capital reserves, which are projected to be at around $1.8 million and $2.7 million by the end of August 2018.

Capital spending planned for the coming school year includes replacing six school buses plus a cargo van.