The South East Cornerstone Public School Division is looking at staffing reductions to deal with a shortfall in funding from the provincial government.
At the division’s board meeting last Wednesday, chief financial officer Shelley Toth delivered a deficit budget. All budgets for the division since 2015 have been deficits, but have been able to stave off having to make drastic cuts until now.
“Calculations for the revenues that we receive for our operational budget are based on student enrollment, facilities, the size of facilities we’ve got, the number of facilities we have, our transportation we need for rural systems, et cetera,” explained Lynn Little, the director of education for the school division, noting that is a simplified look at the process.
While the funding from the provincial government has increased by 1.5 percent for the school division over the last provincial budget, it doesn’t meet all of the needs that the divisions have thanks to increasing costs. The funding per student has also decreased significantly in recent years.
“We’re not yet receiving the same dollars per student that we received in 2015-16, and yet there have been, certainly, cost increases since that time,” Little added.
The provincial government did provide the money needed to cover the 2 percent wage increase coming to teachers as part of their most recent contract negotiated with the province. The problem is, that other contracts also have increases built into them.
“Just over 50 percent of our employees are not teachers,” Little said. educational assistants, bus drivers, custodial staff, library staff, administrative assistant staff, etc. also have salary increases within their contracts.”
As a result of the funding shortfall, there will be 35 full-time equivalent positions cut by SECPSD. The hope is that layoffs will be minimized due to attrition.