Budget Talk 2015
Education is an important topic and turning into a hot topic in the political arena thanks to the recent election campaign. Parkland School Division would like to provide some further details to the Examiner/Reporter article dated April 3, 2015, where our Board Chair Eric Cameron was given the opportunity to discuss details on the 2015-16 Provincial Budget and what impacts are expected for Parkland School Division. As a school division experiencing significant enrolment growth, we will feel the constraints of the provincial budget just like the majority of school jurisdictions in the province who are in the same boat.
No Funding for Enrolment Growth
PSD welcomed 274 new students in 2014-15 and is expected to see an additional 400 plus students in 2015-16. This will equate to a $2.6 million revenue shortfall with no funding for enrolment growth. In addition to this base instruction allocation, the shortfall for the Inclusive Education grant is expected to be $212 thousand dollars and Transportation Grant shortfalls are expected to be another $349 thousand dollars. The total shortfall associated with enrolment alone is a projected at $3.2 million dollars.
Limited Access to Reserves
There’s been a lot of conversations lately about Accumulated Surplus from Operations (ASO) – commonly referred to as reserves. There are questions about how much money school divisions have set aside and their intended use. The Alberta Government encouraged school jurisdictions to use their reserves. In Budget 2015, the message from the Minister of Education was, “While government respects local school boards decisions, given the need to transition to a new fiscal approach, you will have to prioritize and justify any previously identified uses of your ASO in the context of aforementioned transition planning. Therefore no expenditures, even those already planned, are to be funded through your ASO without prior ministerial approval.”
Reserves are funds set aside which ensure the stability of education services when funding cuts occur. They are the result of careful planning and spending. Locally elected officials work hard to be fiscally responsible and accountable to their communities.
At the end of August 31, 2014, Parkland School Division had $3.3 million of accumulated surplus from operations that we have earmarked to address student needs. This represents 2.6% of our entire operating expenses. In the last 6 years, our reserves have been reduced by 68% or over $7 million dollars. Parkland School Division deemed this would be in the best interests of students.
Reserves are important. In Parkland School Division, they have been used to:
- Equip our staff to meet the ever-changing and complex needs of our students
- Adjust resources due to enrolment changes from year to year, or during the school year
- Lessen the impact of funding cuts on the classroom
- Minimize cuts to staffing
- Provide current technology in our schools and the infrastructure to support Information Technology
- Maintain school buildings
- Any other emergent issues
Parkland School Division has acted responsibly on behalf of our students and are proud of the way we used our Operating Reserves to pursue our Vision and Mission and Ultimate Goal of Student Success and Well-being.
For more information contact:
Centre for Education
4603- 48 Street
Stony Plain, AB T7Z 2A8
Toll Free: 1-800-282-3997 (only in Alberta)