CANMORE – After the UCP government released Budget 2019 last Thursday (Oct. 24), the local public school board is scrambling with yet another funding shortfall.
Canadian Rockies Public School (CRPS) board officials said it would be affected by an estimated $725,000 shortfall as a result of reassigned grants to accommodate enrolment growth.
"It's always challenging when you lose money out of your budget, it's not a preferred situation," said school board chair Carol Picard.
"But we are nothing if not creative – we challenge our teachers and our students to be creative thinkers, and we ourselves as a board and administration are going to have to follow our own words."
According to a press release from CRPS, the dollars being removed are the result of the reassignment of three grants.
“The actual dollars being removed at this time by the province from CRPS is $1.4 million, based on three grants previously received that are now reassigned: the Classroom Improvement Fund [$306,000]; the Class Size Grant [$845,000]; and the School Fees Reduction grant [$203,000],” the press release stated.
“This funding is reassigned in order for the government to reallocate dollars to address enrolment growth across the province.”
The province is allocating a one-time funding amounting to $356 per students to aid rural school boards with reductions from the three listed grants.
“For Canadian Rockies School Division this amounts to approximately $632,000. This results in an estimated net reduction of funding of $725,000 to the division for the 2019-20 school year,” the release stated.
“The division was most impacted by the removal of the Class Size Grant that amounted to just under $845,000. As noted, the $632,000 transition grant does not account for the loss of class size grant funding.”
Recently, the CRPS board said its property insurance is to increase 217 per cent resulting in a $166,000 increase to its spending. In an email, Mike Guindon, board treasurer, said that has actually increased by 274 per cent.
Additionally, the board has been informed a long standing agreement with the federal government to cover education for Indigenous students at the Exshaw School would be terminated, resulting in a $1.6 million shortfall for that school's funding beginning in 2020. CRPS is still waiting to meet with federal government officials to better understand the changes to Indigenous education funding as a result.
For Picard it's not the first time she's been a member of the board while it manages cuts – the priority always remains the students themselves.
"I think our admin team – they're dancing quickly," she said. "We will put everything we can into those classrooms. What it looks like on the ground when all of this shakes out, I can not tell you yet, no body can tell you, in any division, what it's going to look like – we’re still sifting through."
In the meantime, the board intends to consider all options in moving forward with the new budget numbers.
“The division will take some time to carefully and thoughtfully review current allocations of funding and reserves to adjust the budget to meet the new reality, with the goal of minimum impact in classrooms,” the press release said.
“The division is hopeful after realigning the budget with the new funding structure that we do not see further impacts from the adjustments in funding.”