'It’s going to be very tough': Red Deer schools face funding shortfall after UCP budget
Both Red Deer school divisions are taking a second look at their finances following the provincial budget tabled Thursday.
In rolling out the 2019 provincial budget, the UCP promised there would be no cuts to education, but Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and the Red Deer Public School District say both divisions were hit with a funding shortfall.
"The funding we received for class size funding, classroom improvement funding and classroom reduction funding were bundled together into a one-time transitional grant," said Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Superintendent Paul Mason. "This one time transitional grant is less than we receive from those three funding streams."
"We had heard messaging for a few weeks that education was going to be left alone in this budget and that's not what we saw when we opened up our spreadsheets," said Red Deer Public Schools Superintendent Stu Henry. "There was a number of large grants that were taken away and then reallocated to pay for enrolment growth around the province."
Red Deer Catholic School Division saw a decrease of around $2 million. Mason says they were prepared for some cuts, but not cuts of this magnitude.
"We anticipated there would be some budget changes for the 2019-20 school year, so we rolled out two per cent cuts to specific programs and resources for our school division in order to offset these budget shortfalls. When the budget was rolled out, though, it became evident or apparent that there were further cuts than we anticipated."
Red Deer Public School Division, on the other hand, is facing a $3.5 million shortfall.
"It's going to be very tough for us because our budget is set and our budget is rolling for the year already," said Henry. "We had built up our reserves for a rainy day like this and unfortunately were going to have to use a lot of them on this year's budget alone, which doesn't leave us a lot of room for future budgets.
Both school divisions say there will be no impacts to students this year.
"We looked at if we had to make changes to our budgeting, we wanted to ensure we were as far away from the classroom as possible," said Mason.
Red Deer teachers also expressed their concern.
"Teachers are disappointed with this budget. Once again, teachers will be asked to do more with less, but they shouldn't have to," said ATA Local 60 President Kelly Aleman.