- Published on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:39
- Written by Pat Kolafa | © DrumhellerMail.com
Prairie Land Regional School Division (PLRD) passed its operational and capital budgets for the coming school year and appears to be in strong shape moving into the next school year.
The operating budget has increased 1.9 per cent over the last school year and has total operating expenditures of $24,973,310. This results in an on paper deficit of $256,970. PLRD superintendent Wes Neumeier explains the actual deficit is not as high.
“Some of that is attributable to school surpluses. We’ve asked schools to spend down their surpluses. Over the years some of our schools have gathered surpluses over the board’s guiding line of three per cent and as they spend those down, they show up as deficits for us,” said Neumeier. “So when we are advocating for funding we remove that portion of the school surplus that shows up as deficit.”
The planned capital expenditures for the coming school year include bus replacements, an addition to the transportation fleet and the construction of a storage building to house equipment.
The budget also shows a shift towards more certified staffing in the classroom. The budget shows an increase of 3.77 full time equivalents (FTE) in certified staffing, but a decrease of 3.5 FTE in uncertified staff.
“We have prioritized and revisited our school’s budgeting principles and looked at staffing. We felt that cuts to professional staff were too deep last year and we added back some professional staff to some schools, based on demographic changes and changing special needs,” said Neumeier.
He says they have shifted to smaller classes with more teaching staff, and therefore there's not as much need for assistants in the classroom.
He said the staff increases would be evident at Consort, Altario, Berry Creek and Veteran.
Neumeier adds they have added more district coordination for technology.
“We want to move the focus of our technology planning from equipment to learning. Rather than just focusing on evergreening (updating) planning, we want it to be about learning outcomes,” said Neumeier.
He said enrollment in PLRD has remained relatively stable. The largest drop came in the colony schools where a colony split. He adds that colony schools do not make too much of an impact on the budget because often the colonies support some of the cost associated with local community schools.
He concludes by saying the board may see further challenges in the 2013-2014 school year as they will be losing about a half million dollars in funding.
“We are going to continue our advocacy for sustainable funding for small rural schools,” said Neumeier.