WCPS Board honouring budget commitments despite funding shortfall

By Pamela Hansen, board chair

We knew that the Alberta Government’s budget released in October was going to be a tough one, but the budget means a significant and severe shortfall in funding for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).

Alberta Education has eliminated three major grants that directly support students and teachers in the classroom, with a replacement grant that is significantly lower. Those grants are: Class Size Funding (reduced class sizes primarily K-3), Classroom Improvement Fund (Educational Assistants and School Social Workers), and School Fee Replacement Grant (reduced school fees for parents). The changes in the Alberta Government’s budget mean a $1,790,598 shortfall for our school division. We understand the desire for fiscal restraint, but this change in funding during the school year is extremely disappointing.

In planning for the 2019-2020 school year, the Board made commitments based on our priorities, and despite this shortfall created by changes to education funding, we felt it necessary to honour those commitments. To that end, the Board will use reserves, essentially WCPS’ savings, to cover the provincial funding shortfall.

Although not easy, this decision ensures no reductions this school year in school budgets and district operational budgets, including front-line support for classrooms and students. The impact of using these reserves is that it delays the replacement of some equipment throughout WCPS and the replacement of some school buses as per our bus replacement schedule. WCPS currently has a replacement cycle for 12 years for buses. We believe it will be feasible to extend that replacement schedule to 14 or 15 years. To that end, there would be no new buses purchased for two years. WCPS’s average bus age for its fleet is low, and we feel that this change does not impact safety.

You may be aware that funding from the provincial government makes up nearly all the revenue a school division receives to operate schools and educate students. Going forward, we know WCPS, like divisions across the province, are facing a new reality that will be difficult to budget for. The Alberta Government has stated they are “freezing” education funding rates for four years. Meanwhile, the provincial funding and assurance framework is under review and will be released for the spring, 2020 budget. That simply means we are not certain what that will translate into in terms of further funding changes for education. It is also uncertain if the “one-time transitional funding” may take any other form next year, but we do know that we no longer have Class Size Funding, School Fee Reduction Funding or Classroom Improvement Funding. Those three grants alone total $4.65 million in funding.

As we also prepare for the 2020-2021 Wolf Creek Public Schools budget and the next school year, senior administration has been directed to undertake a complete review of operations to find further efficiencies. The operational review is ongoing over the next several months in preparation for spring budget planning. We commit to keeping you informed through this process.

– Submitted by Wolf Creek Public Schools

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

Just Posted

Mat program not quite ready to open its doors

Committee hopes to bring people out from the cold with overnight shelter program

Ponoka County writes off quarter of a million in taxes

Bankrupt energy companies hitting county financially

Radon screening kits now available at Ponoka Jubilee Library through PRL

Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and it could be in your home

A salute and farewell to history columnist Mike Rainone upon his retirement

Mike Rainone served Ponoka in different capacities for 57 years

VIDEO: Prince Harry takes on first duties since royal crisis talks

Britain’s Press Association says Duke of Sussex to carry on meetings into next week

Sylvan Lake RCMP seek assistance in locating missing male

Mark Crier, 17, was last seen in Sylvan Lake on Jan. 13

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

Alberta says universities over-budget; need to freeze travel, hiring, hosting

Demetrios Nicolaides says spending is not meeting expectations

Over 16,000 people nabbed by RCMP between border crossings in 2019

In 2019, 63,830 claims were filed, up from 55,040 in 2018

Iran must compensate crash victims’ families, Canada-led group agrees

‘We are judging Iran every day, demand by demand,’ says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne

Beer-league hockey player awarded $700,000 for body check that caused head injury

Ontario court rules in a March 2012 incident in which a 36-year-old hit his head on the ice

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Alberta promises to fix rules on aging energy wells

Cleanup group says companies must be prevented from buying facilities they can’t afford to clean up

Most Read