“A lot of it's high numbered graduating classes leaving and smaller Grade 1 and Kindergarten classes coming in,” he said. "Anytime families move out of the territory, that is a direct loss and we had that happen.”
He adds the slowdown in the economy also spurs families moving away from the area, and that impacts the numbers.
“We hope the trend is going to level off, if not improve. There is going to be a point in the next few years that our graduating class going out is going to be the same as our classes coming in, so we hope that we will maintain where we are at,” he said.
The loss is more dramatic than the board’s projections made in March of 2010, and represents 38 more students leaving than anticipated.
“The board’s reduction in staffing that took place last spring was a necessary step in ensuring that board reserves, which will be used to offset a now larger operating deficit, are used responsibly,” stated in the PLRD’s board meeting highlights.
Roy said the board is still working to find efficiencies.
“Our year end was August 1. We are going to be looking at a $382,000 deficit, which we planned on. We know that trend can’t continue, so over the course of this year we will be reviewing all of our operations and see where we can, at the end of the day, find some efficiencies,” he said.
Transportation is one big expense for the school division, and alone it represented an approximate $200,000 deficit.
“We run 45 routes and already. Time wise, we have those routes running 60-90 minutes, so we pretty well have the efficiencies there,” he said. “This is where our advocacy is directed toward the Alberta government. We are bringing that to their attention because the formula isn’t meeting our direct needs because our students are spread out and we have to travel great distances to pick up fewer numbers, but at the same time we need to pick them up.”
He said the board would be meeting with the local MLA to tell them of their struggles.
“Hopefully the government can realize and rationalize what the situation is out here that they may need to address,” he said.
The new Board of Directors was sworn in at their organizational meeting. All of the previous board members were acclaimed with the exception of Lyle Cawiezel of Ward 4 Subdivision 1. He beat out long time board member John Neill at the general election. Elaine Horner of Ward 1 was elected Vice Chairperson.
Roy represents Ward 2 and was first elected to the board in 1995. He served the last three years as chair.