The 2021-2022 budgets for the Peace Wapiti Public School Division (PWPSD) and Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools (GPCSD) were released last week, with both divisions seeing deficits.
The GPCSD saw the biggest deficit of $2.5 million, while the PWPSD saw a deficit of $500,000.
The deficit for GPCSD comes after the loss of the Federal Safe Return to Schools funding and a temporary expansion of literacy, and mental health programming, says the GPCSD in a release.
GPCSD will be drawing on $2.5 million from accumulated surplus and reserves to offset the deficit.
“The budget has been prioritized with a strong focus on instructional spending, allocating the highest percentage funding back into our school classrooms to directly benefit students,” said GPCSD in a release.
The reserves and accumulated surplus for GPCSD are currently at $4.2 million, according to the division.
The PWPSD board voted to approve the 2021-22 budget with operating revenues of $83,214,335 and operating expenditures of $83,714,335, resulting in a deficit of $500,000.
“Transportation often operates with a deficit budget,” said PWPSD Superintendent Bob Stewart, who explained that the large geographic size of the division adds to the financial challenges.
The PWPSD board will request ministerial approval for $547,652 from the capital reserves for the 2021-22 budgeted transportation deficit.
Student enrollment in the PWPSD is projected to increase by 1.8 per cent or approximately 99 students in the 2021-22 school year.
The PWPSD budget includes considerations for mental health supports in the form of $100,000 and ongoing pandemic-related costs as schools prepare for “near-normal operations” at the cost of $400,000.
“As we move beyond the numerous restrictions resulting from the pandemic, this budget will allow us to take into consideration some assumed costs that may continue, such as additional sanitizing and personal protective equipment,” said Stewart.
The 2021-22 budget will support the full return to regular educational operations for PWPSD students and some enhancements to student wellness, literacy and numeracy.
“Currently, we have one literacy coordinator and next year, we are going to add one more literacy co-ordinator to work with schools and students as well as two numeracy co-ordinators,” said Stewart.
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News