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Red Deer Public Schools approves budget for 2024/2025 school year

Board of Trustees

An increase in newcomers to Canada who have enrolled in Red Deer Public, continued rising material and supply costs, inflationary pressures related to utilities and insurance, and an increased cost for employee benefits for a third year in a row have made for a tough 2024/2025 budget for the Division.

The Board of Trustees approved its 2024/2025 budget for Red Deer Public Schools at this week’s meeting. With a revenue of $134,012,560, and expenses of $134,712,560, Red Deer Public will use $700,000 of reserves to help fund the projected deficit of $700,000. 

The projected student enrollment for the 2024/2025 school year is about 10,813 FTE students.

“This budget reflects the Board's priority to invest in mental health initiatives for all students, as well as to put every available resource into the classroom,” said Nicole Buchanan, Board Chair. “We believe the best place to spend our money is on excellence in teaching and learning.”

As material and supply costs continue to rise, ensuring ongoing maintenance and improvements are made to schools has become a draw on the Division’s budget. This could include projects from installing a drinking water fountain to replacing a roof, addressing classroom and washroom upgrades, among others. The Division will receive $1.39 million in Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal Funding, which is similar to last year, and $1.77 million in Capital Maintenance and Renewal Funding, which is a $711,000 increase from the 2023/2024 school year.

Another challenge includes a continued increase in rate costs for ASEBP, CPP and EI benefits. These benefit increases combined will total about $1,067 per employee. “The rise in costs for the Division is because our employees are accessing their benefits, which is a good thing and the reason those benefits are in place,” said Buchanan. “However, that results in increased costs to Red Deer Public Schools. We appreciate the funding that we receive from the provincial government and Alberta Education, but we still face funding challenges.”

Identified risk factors for the approved budget includes an uncertainty of what next year’s student enrolment may be due to the current status of the provincial economy; Alberta recently being designated as a high-risk province due to natural disasters causing insurance rates to increase exponentially; and inflationary cost pressures not being funded.

As part of the budget, Red Deer Public will maintain staffing levels, continue Student Support Rooms in most elementary, K - 8 and middle schools, implement a comprehensive bullying prevention program, and develop an extensive Staff Learning Day plan in order to implement the initiatives and strategies included in the Three-Year Education Plan.

Looking ahead, Superintendent Chad Erickson said the Board of Trustees will engage with parents and the community surrounding the Division’s budget next year.

“We will use the 2024/2025 school year to really engage with our community on how to find the best way forward in regards to our budget,” said Erickson. “Just to continue the status quo, we have to go into reserves. We will also continue to advocate cross-ministry funding so that the dollars meant for education stay in the classroom.”

The Board approved its 2024/2025 budget on May 8, and will submit it to Alberta Education on May 31.

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