Living Sky passes budget despite funding challenges

From battlefordsNOW
May 16, 2018 - 12:00pm

Living Sky School Division passed its budget for the 2018-19 school year but had to contend with a $653,000 funding reduction.

The funding decrease was mainly due to a decrease in student enrolment numbers projections for the next school year.

Board chair Ronna Pethick said the division projected a reduced enrolment for the next school year of about 100 students which impacted funding.

"We never like to lose students but the budget is totally related to student numbers," she said. "When you have decreasing student enrolment, then we understand that we would get less money from the province."

The school division did manage to find savings to reduce costs to make up for the loss, to successfully deliver a balanced budget. The division's total operating budget for 2018-19 will be about $75 million.

Pethick stressed the school division will not be using its reserves to offset the reduced funding it received from the province. 

"The largest savings we realized in this budget have been reduced costs for subs and casual employees," she said. "We're being very careful about how much time our teachers are in front of our students in the classroom, so we've implemented sub guidelines. That has given us quite a large number of savings."

The division will also be delivering its professional development program in a different way that is more cost efficient overall.

The school division was also able to reduce costs by using one supplier only for all its contracted bus services. Previously the division had two contracted bus service providers.

"For a large portion of routes, we own our own buses but we have contracted bus services. We've gone down to one contracted service from one supplier now who contracts for us, instead of two. That's a little bit of a savings," Pethick said.

The chair confirmed there will be no changes to any of the bus routes or the number of routes. She added having fewer students doesn't have an impact on bus routes.

Pethick said the focus of the division remains to follow its strategic plan closely and meet a number of objectives, including increasing graduation rates, and reducing the graduation disparity between First Nation students and non First Nation students. 


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