By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board (GSACRD) trustees approved the division’s 2010-2011 operating budget Monday night – a budget that shows a $658,501 deficit. The negative figure is the difference between the $66,626,181 in revenues the division expects to receive and the $67,284,682 it expects to incur in expenditures.
Trustees heard from Deborah Schlag, the division’s secretary/treasurer, that Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools were impacted by a change in class size funding methodology which shifted from a lump sum allocation to the province’s new per student rate. The change in funding style resulted in a divisional revenue loss of $1.6 million or almost 17 teachers.
However, Schlag said the direction from the minister of education was that if school boards had sufficient reserves, they were to maintain the level of staffing in their schools, even if that meant presenting a deficit budget. The secretary / treasurer said the division has maintained its staffing levels within a point or two of the previous year’s totals.
“Through the stakeholder consultation process, we came to know we were actually going to maintain that, and we were only able to do that through a deficit budget,” Schlag said, adding although the budget presents a more than $658,000 deficit, the division has sufficient reserves to be able to support that. “We are actually still in a positive reserve position.”
After realizing the 2010-2011 deficit, the division will still have an operating surplus of $1,064,203.
Trustee Dave Caron was pleased the budget honoured the major wishes of the division’s stakeholders to maintain the relative staffing levels of GSACRD schools. “That certainly was a position the board agreed and adopted as well,” he said. “This budget honours that objective.”
Seventy-eight per cent of all revenues received by the division go directly to classrooms and staffing, with an average of 73 per cent of the division’s overall expenditures going towards personnel costs, including salary and benefits.
The 2010-2011 budget has $48,668,400 directed towards certified and non-certified salaries and benefits, a figure that represents 72.33 per cent of the approved budget.