Prairie Land passes 2020-2021 budget

A motion by Prairie Land trustees to unanimously pass this next school year’s budget was done so on May 26 at their regular meeting.

In summary, an increase in revenue of $2.24 million in the operating budget was noted as well as an increase in expenditures of $1.79 million, $1.87m for online/home education and a net reduction of $81,000 for all other areas.

“By far the lion’s share of that is the students that would be coming in on the online at home education program. 

“That would leave $90,000 in the plus for those students so what we are seeing within that $575,000 is a $90,000 gain from the Home Christian School students that would be coming. 

Now that is purely an estimate based on the numbers we currently have.”

They have planned out a $575,000 deficit.

Prairie Land has re-introduced the instructional resource fee at a rate of $100 for Kindergarten to Grade 9 students and then $110 for Grade 10 to Grade 12 students, calculated at an 80 per cent collection rate based on previous year’s data.

“We are conservative there,” said Sharon Orum, Prairie Land secretary-treasurer.

Capital budget

For the capital budget, they have seen a total of $813,250 that includes items like road buses, route buses, video conferencing and so forth.

The three buses they will be purchasing comes to a total of $330,000 and one of their current trucks requires $47,250 in maintenance.

Virtual learning supports are coming in at $50,000 and additional Total 360 disinfecting

Equipment for classrooms is costing $6,000.

Supports committed to the Delia School are also added.

Prairie Land has given an initial $100,000 towards the project as well as $180,000 towards new bleachers and $100,000 in air control for a total investment of $380,000.

“The next two years are years when we submit a budget and the Minister accepts it; we cannot spend more than what we are going to spend. 

“They suggested very strongly they put in a contingency in there,” said Orum.

Future classes

Superintendent Cam McKeage went over some of the possibilities the division can make for the next school year.

Health and safety of staff and students remain to be a high priority so with plans coming well in advance they hope they can continue that.

Trustees requested some scenarios that may happen within schools to have a better idea of what could come as well.

Blended classrooms, meaning some students are physically at school while others remain at home, is being considered.

They would hope to schedule students to have equal school and at-home learning time throughout the semester.

With British Columbia taking the lead on reopening schools, Prairie Land will be observant in how their systems work to possibly copy and adjust to their school’s needs.

“It will be interesting to see what they do and how they handle it,” said McKeage.

Trustees also suggested a letter to MLA Nate Horner should be in order to show the serious gap between internet connectivity in rural areas compared to urban centres and how it relates to education within the area.

The group predicts that internet bills will ‘skyrocket’ once life gets back to normal.

“It’s an issue we are really struggling with in the last few months. It’s always been there but we need to advocate somehow,” Trustee Marsha Tkach.

Tkach added that for the Veteran area, a big issue they had was with child care as many parents will or have already returned to work since the pandemic has lessened, meaning young children might be at home with no supervision.

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.