The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Local school boards digging into reserves to make ends meet
By Diane Spoor
Staff Reporter

Local school boards are having to dig deep to make ends meet after the province released its budget Oct. 24.
Secretary treasurer for Wild Rose School Division (WRSD) Ama Urbinsky said, “We are seeing about a $1.25 million shortfall for this school year. And we will have to use our reserves to make up that short fall. But once that’s gone it’s gone.”
Urbinsky said the staffing levels for the 2019-2020 school year will not change. The school board will face some tough decisions when it meets at the end of the month to start looking into the future.
“Obviously there is no way there won’t be an impact. If there is less funding, there will be an impact. But we are committed to educating our students and keeping the funding in the classroom.”
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) superintendent Paul Mason echoed the sentiments from WRSD. “We had planned for a $2 million dollar shortfall but it was closer to $2.5 million. The difference will have to be made up from reserves,” said Mason. “This is a challenging time for the province. But we know our schools have a role to play in our province’s future.”
Mason went on to say RDCRS has started working on contingency plans for next year, assuming another tight budget will be in store. But he emphasized, “Our primary guiding principle is to stay away from the classrooms. We will focus on cutting ‘the stuff’ not the people.”
Teachers in both divisions are also concerned. In a press release from RDCRS, Alberta Teachers’ Association Local 80 president Stephen Merredew said, “Teachers know that a fully-funded education system is a good investment for government that pays off exponentially for our society in the future. Unfortunately, these budget cuts likely mean that more students, especially those who require additional learning supports, may not have access to tools and resources that they need to fully realize their potential, despite having the very best teachers in their classrooms.”