The 2021-2022 Operating and Capital budget were passed unanimously by the Prairie Land Board of Trustees at their regular monthly meeting held Tues. May 25.
An operating deficit of $550,000 is expected as well as board-funded capital assets of $627,500 for vehicles and equipment with an additional $380,000 relating to the new Delia School rebuild to provide extra space, bleachers and upgraded air handlers.
Two new schools will be coming on-stream for the next school year; Al-Amal Academy and Prairie Land Online Academy.
It is also expected that the International Student Program will gain momentum in the upcoming year.
With the new schools, programs and augmentation of some existing supports, the division expects to add 16.20 certified teachers and 25.5 additional support staff.
Teaching staff for the two new schools total 8.6 FTE (Full Time Equivalency) while 3.3 FTE will supplement Berry Creek Community School and Hope Christian Online School, due to enrollment demands.
The remaining teaching FTE will focus on literacy and numeracy as well as providing support for new start-up schools and initiatives.
The majority of support staff will be added to address the recent literacy and numeracy shortfalls that have been identified over the past year and will address the increasing needs of students in the high needs categories.
The board heard from Assistant Superintendent Steve Nielsen on the Delia School rebuild project.
He reported that as usual there has been a wealth of development activity happening to get the school ready.
Cement work is finished while framing and drywall installation are nearing this point.
The contractors are now working on exterior sidewalks and other smaller projects.
Because of how quickly contractors have been going to get the school finished, the schedule has been pushed ahead.
The furniture tender has gone out and come back with company CDI providing their furniture selections.
“It’s getting pretty real over there,” said Nielsen.
Trustee Lindsay Bond asked about work on the Morrin School rebuild as some of the contractors were convinced they would also be working on this rebuild project as well.
Nielsen shared the Morrin School will undergo the exact same process Delia did in that a tender will go out and then a number of evaluation tools and objectives will be weighed by Prairie Land, Alberta Education and Alberta Infrastructure to determine the best fit for the job.
In other terms, Shunda Consulting and Construction Management Ltd. will have to bid again if they wish to be selected to work on this project as well.
One of these considerations is looking at hiring local employment when possible.
As for the Morrin School progress, engineers have finished the detailed design stage as they are now headed towards 60 per cent complete.
Once it reaches this benchmark, it can be shared publicly for input.
Trustee Gwen Hampton and Nielsen met with the Friends of the Morrin School group and found that ‘people are getting pretty excited’ about this coming to fruition.
Trustee Barry Davis asked if they have tendered out for it yet as the process of material such as plywood have skyrocketed over the last couple of months.
Nielsen shared they are not as they want to give time to see the prices settle.
Two requests were made to the board in the areas of technology and facilities.
The board approved video conference and IT upgrades, custodial and maintenance equipment, division housing upgrades and furniture replacement for Berry Creek Community School as well as Altario and Consort schools.
Technology requested funding will be put towards upgrading switches at an approximate cost of $205,000 throughout the division to ensure seamless delivery.
The facilities area is focusing on replacement of necessary tools and equipment ($100,000) in order for trades and custodial staff to efficiently do their jobs.
The funding will also replace school furniture such as student and teacher desks at $130,000 in Altario, Cessford and Consort.
Lastly, re-roofing of various staff housing units for $105,000 was also approved.
Education Plan accepted
The three-year Education Plan is a document that was developed as a result of the community assurance meetings, in addition to staff, public and student surveys.
This framework focuses on the fundamentals students will learn and take with them once out of high school.
For Prairie Land, focal points land on teaching and learning, health and wellness, culture and inclusivity and community and engagement.