Recently, the Prairie South School Division presented its 2019-20 budget, which is in the red for the second straight year.
Director of education Tony Baldwin said they dipped into some of their reserve funds to balance the budget.
Baldwin said this year, the school board got an increase of about $400,000 but he said it only pays for about 70 per cent of the budget increase needed for the collective agreement the teachers signed last year.
“So, really, the budget increase provided a portion of something that we have to pay and didn’t provide any recognition for cost of living, or carbon tax, or the Canadian dollar or the increased costs of goods and services connected with tariffs when we’re purchasing things like school buses from from the United States,” said Baldwin. “So it was definitely a net loss for us in terms of spending power.”
Baldwin said some of their reserves are restricted, and some don't have any restrictions on how they are spent.
“For the last couple of years, the board has determined that that expenditure at the current time is more appropriate that waiting for something down the road,” Baldwin said. “But certainly that’s not something they will be able to do or want to do over the very long term. There are unexpected expenditures that come up.”
Baldwin said they were able to maintain the same staffing formula as they have in previous years, but they are running a deficit budget, which isn't a viable solution for the long term.
“There will come a point when we’ll run out of money and at that point then there will be less services for kids, because we won’t be able to afford to maintain the services we have now,” he said. “But for next year the board made the decision to spend about a half million dollars more than we’re getting from the government. And so that will allow us to carry on pretty much as we have for this year, this year.”
In 2017-18, they had an enrolment increase of 40 students and lost $3.8 million in provincial funding.