Skip to content

Aspen View approves 2010-2011 deficit budget

The Aspen View Regional Public School Division board approved the 2010-2011 school year budget at its Nov. 18 regular meeting. and as reported in last week’s Advocate, the school division will run a deficit for the second year in a row.

The Aspen View Regional Public School Division board approved the 2010-2011 school year budget at its Nov. 18 regular meeting. and as reported in last week’s Advocate, the school division will run a deficit for the second year in a row.

According to the approved budget, a decline of 173 students in Aspen View schools resulted in less government funding. Due to that, the school division was forced to take $1,754,761 from its reserves of about $5.1 million.

Running a deficit won’t result in any cuts to jobs or programming at the schools, but it does force the division to take a serious look at creating a more balanced budget for the future.

Of the $1,754.761 taken from reserves, $374,279 goes towards sustaining student education, $674,600 toward central administration support for schools, $315,205 for instructional resource allocation, and the final $390,677 is a result of a withdrawal of 80 students from Vilna School due to construction and modernization of the school.

The report also noted a projected enrollment decline of two to four per cent per year for the next five years.

Since the school division still has about $5 million in reserves, they can still drawn down their reserves over the next couple of years as a last resort, but according to superintendent Brian LeMessurier, the division will begin looking very seriously at ways to balance the budget.

“It is very important to the board and myself by next week we arrive at or near a balanced budget.”

At this point, the school division sits in a positive financial position, but changes are going to have to occur to stop a deficit budget from happening in the future.

It is too early to project where these changes may occur, said LeMessurier, but since the division is currently overstaffed, there is the possibility of job losses in the future.

The school division will operate with a budget of just less than $39 million, which is around the same as last year’s operating budget, said Dave Holler, director of business services for Aspen View.

With 66 per cent of the operating budget allocated to salaries and benefits, compared to 62 per cent last year, reducing the number closer to 60 per cent is one of the issues administration will look at closely.

“It’s all part of the review and establishing a long-range plan to address changes happening in the area,” explained LeMessurier.

Part of the overstaffing was due to the Vilna School construction and modernization this year, where the school lost 80 students.

The staffing is in place so that programs offered the year before wouldn’t be taken away.

Supplying programs to students is one aspect the division will look at scrupulously, said LeMessurier.

“Program offerings for students is a very high priority for us. Changes may need to be made, but we want to make them with hopefully none or little negative impact on student programming.”

Construction and modernization of Vilna school is set to be finished by this summer and be ready by September 2011 for the new school year.

The problems don’t lie just with Vilna School, LeMessurier said. It is a province-wide issue the board will look at for the coming months.

“We have to look at other efficiencies within the system when it comes to our declining numbers in other parts of the division, too. It would be very unfair to hang this all on Vilna because it isn’t just a Vilna issue; it is a rural Alberta issue of student population declining,” noted LeMessurier.

It’s too early to tell how much provincial funding they will receive next year, what the enrollment numbers will be or what other factors may affect next year’s budget, said LeMessurier.





Comments