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School board approves budget

Jun 17, 2014 10:15 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

St. Paul Education Regional Division No. 1 recently approved its 2014-15 budget, and while a deficit of $552,890 is forecasted, Secretary-Treasurer Jean Champagne says things are looking good heading into the next school year.

“A budget really is a forecast, so we’re forecasting our revenue and expenses for next year, and in that forecast there are a lot of assumptions. We make a lot of assumptions based on enrolment, based on wage settlements, based on grant levels and everything else,” Champagne told parents and administration at last Wednesday’s Council of School Councils. “We try and figure out what the size of our pie is going to be, and then basically how we’re going to spend that pie. In our case, we want to spend the whole pie. We’re not a private operation that has to get profit . . . whatever revenue we have in a given year, we want to spend it.”

The 2014-15 budget is based on a total enrolment of 4,058 students, with forecasted revenues of $55,723,548 and expenses of $56,276,438. Champagne pointed out school board revenue comes from two main sources, grants and enrolment.

Of the $56 million in expenses, 78 per cent will go directly to instruction, which Champage said covers the salaries of teacher, librarians, teachers aid and support staff as well as books, materials and equipment.

Eleven per cent of expenses will be filtered into facilities, which includes “custodial staff, the maintenance department as well as the upkeep of schools and utility costs,” said Champagne.

Six per cent of expenses will cover transportation costs, of which Champagne said “everything is related to that contractor cost and employee cost, buses and fuel.”

Four per cent will cover administration costs, primarily central office and board of trustees salaries, while the remaining one per cent will go towards debt service.

“Basically we have a little bit of supported debt. Prior to 1995 when the school district wanted to build a school, they went and borrowed money for it. That was set up through debentures and a repayment schedule. After 1995 the province took over all school debt,” Champagne told the Journal. “This is kind of working through the little bit of debt that is left on the books from prior to 1995. It’s all related to school construction projects.”

“Superintendent Glen Brodziak stated that he was pleased no educational programs are being cut due to budgets. Overall, staffing numbers will be remaining relatively the same with a few additional hires in areas such as counseling and technology supports,” read a press release from SPERD.

Champagne added with the current agreement for teachers’ salaries, there is “nothing of significant concern” in the short term.

“Over the long term there is a bit of concern because the biggest part of our budget is salaries. The province negotiated a long-term agreement with teachers so there are very small increases,” said Champagne. “That means our costs aren’t going up much, and if our costs aren’t going up much it’s not that big of a concern.”

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