Lethbridge: Public School Trustees got a look at the School Board's preliminary 2011-2012 Budget Tuesday afternoon and labeled it "Bleak".
The budget won't be debated until a special meeting of the Board on May 31st, but numbers already indicate that if current staffing levels are maintained, the District will have a shortfall of over $5-million next year.
More than 75-per cent of the District budget goes toward staff and when combined with changes or reductions in provincial grants, something has to "give".
It's expected 30-teaching positions and about 30-support staff will have to be cut next year. Those numbers are in addition to the 11 teaching positions that were reduced in the current year when the funding formula for supporting class size teachers was changed last year, resulting in a loss of over $1.3 million to the District for 2010-2011.
Other elements impacting budget deliberations are as follows (as provided by School District 51):
The Base Instructional Funding Grant has been increased by 4.54%, the amount of the Alberta Average Weekly Earnings Index which is used to determine salary increases as per an agreement reached in 2007 by the provincial government and the Alberta Teachers' Association. However, this increase in revenue was significantly impacted by the elimination or reduction in a number of other grants the District receives, such as:
Class Size Funding for grades 4 - 6 - Eliminated
Enhanced English as a Second Language Support - Eliminated
Stabilization Grant - Reduced 50% in 2011/12; Eliminated in 2012/13
AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) - Reduced 50% in 2011/12
The remainder of the grants the District receives, including those to support students with severe disabilities, transportation, plant operations and maintenance, received no increase, for the third consecutive year.
In a statement from the District, "The impact of the elimination or reduction of grants, combined with the fact that in 2010/11 the District is using $1.3 million of reserve funds and $1 million of one-time funding means there would be a shortfall of over $5 million dollars if current staffing levels were to be maintained in 2011/12. Because the District has used reserve funds for each of the past two years to support as many positions as possible, there are no longer sufficient reserve funds to make an impact upon this shortfall".