Gateway Gazette

Foothills School Division Set Budget Based on New Provincial Promises

 

Trustees approved the Division’s budget for 2015-2016. When the New Democrats formed the provincial government, they restored cuts and removed restrictions implemented by the Progressive Conservatives, resulting in a less stringent budget than what FSD was originally preparing for prior to the election.

Among the budget highlights:

Enrolment Growth: Conservatively estimating an increase of approximately 35 FTE (full-time equivalent), which will be funded by the Province.

Staffing:

  • No reductions in certificated staffing (teachers). Contingency funding in place to address certificated staffing needs in the fall should enrolment growth exceed projections.
  • Maintained support staff levels (e.g. Educational Assistants, Family School Liaison Counsellors, central office staff, Technology Facilitators, etc.). Going forward, Technology Facilitators will be centrally deployed rather than being assigned to specific schools to further enhance service delivery.
  • Introduction of full-time FNMI (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) Success Coach who will primarily work with Oilfields and Longview schools, which have the highest percentage of FNMI students. Replaces part-time certificated position.
  • Increased the number of Maintenance Technicians to address facility maintenance demands.
  • Adding capacity in area of capital planning/management due to continued growth in the Division and increasing number of capital projects (new high school at Aldersyde, new shared Division Office/Provincial building in High River, need for future school sites).

Cost Savings & Efficiency Measures:

  • Change to Instructional Coach model. Previously based in schools, a regional team of five Instructional Coaches will now collaborate with teachers across our system to improve student learning.
  • Adjustments to how professional development days are allocated to reduce the need for guest teachers and related costs. Associated date changes are reflected in the updated 2015-16 School Calendar on FSD’s website.
  • Reduced custodial hours across the Division.
  • Cost-sharing arrangement with Global Sport Academy Group for full-time teacher to serve as program liaison for the new Foothills Sports Academy elite boys hockey program. The program, which launches in September and will be managed by Global Sport, replaces the Peak Athletics Hockey Program.

Other Factors:

  • Allocated contingency funding to support schools in meeting the requirements of severe needs students.
  • Budgeted increase for support staff.
  • Funding allocated for implementation of enhanced data storage/management system to safeguard important records and enhance efficiency.
  • Higher than anticipated interest revenue on reserve fund investments has generated $150,000 in extra income.
  • Alberta Municipalities-United Way funding will help support a Success Coach at École Secondaire Foothills Composite High School/Alberta High School of Fine Arts (FCHS/AHSFA) to enhance support for students.

Bottom Line: Projected deficit of $1.1 million, facilitated by NDP Government’s removal of previous administration’s restriction on use of reserves. This will enable FSD to continue to direct as many of our resources as possible to classrooms and student learning, while maintaining healthy operating and capital reserves.

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