By J.W. Schnarr
Horizon School Division appears to finally have their ducks in a row, financially speaking, but after getting their funding restored by the provincial government they are still going to need to dip into reserves to balance the numbers.
During their regular meeting on June 16, the HSD board of trustees passed a motion to accept their new budget after delays were caused first by a pre-election provincial budget which made cuts to education funding, and then again with delays following the change of government when the PCAA old guard was removed. The Notley government then restored that funding.
“In lieu of what the new government has done recently, in unfreezing our reserves, we have looked at our new budget possibilities, and I’d like to present the budget we have agreed upon which would take $517,000 out of reserves in order to balance the budget,” said Vice Chair Bruce Francis.
“I’d like to present this budget as being the one we send in and use for this next year. It gives us an opportunity to continue on as we were, and keep the staff we need.”
According to a memorandum released by Marie Logan, board chair, the initial budget shortfall amounted to $1.65 million. With the reinstatement has been a return of grant funding to 2014-2015 levels, as well as an increase in base funding of 1.8 per cent. Class size has received a two per cent enhancement. The changes have resulted in a budget deficit of $1.02 million for HSD.
Additionally, the Notley government removed the freeze on reserve funds by the previous government, which will allow HSD to cover $356,000 in unamortized capital assets and approved $517,000 in order to balance the budget.
Cuts to service as a result of spending cuts were directed at Inclusive Education, English Language Learner supports, and school decentralized budgets. Those areas will now be fully funded. Additionally, Family School Liaison Counseling support has also been enhanced to support at-risk students.