By Jensen, Randy on May 21, 2020.
Facing an impending budget shortfall in the fall due to provincial reductions in the division’s instructional budget funding and per-student funding, Lethbridge School Division will be eliminating 3.8 full-time equivalent teaching positions and 40.9 full-time equivalent teaching support positions, including 30 educational assistant positions.
LSD superintendent Cheryl Gilmore confirmed Wednesday the elimination of 3.8 teaching positions would be achieved through attrition. However, she said, the 40.9 support positions would have to be eliminated largely through permanent layoffs.
“The instructional budget, the budget which supports all of our staffing and resources for schools, we had an overall increase of $500,000,” she said. “But if you take away what we already lost last year (the $3.5-million classroom size funding grant), we’re looking at a couple of million dollars we need to find in the instructional portion of our budget.”
Some of that shortfall will be made up by drawing $817,000 from reserves, she said, but that would not be enough to prevent staffing cuts.
Gilmore also said the changes to the province’s student funding formula from a yearly per-student basis to a three-year Weighted Moving Average formula means of the 270 new students expected to come into the school division this year only 50 will be fully funded by the provincial government in Lethbridge School Division.
“We have an additional 220 students in the system we are not getting the per-pupil funding for,” she explained; “so those have to be absorbed into the current funding that we have.”
Gilmore also acknowledged this is the best budget number they can project based on current provincial funding models, but it is impossible to predict what might be coming as the province reopens its 2020 budget and makes plans for the opening of classes in the fall. Gilmore was not expecting business as usual, she admitted.
“It’s more likely we will see more of a blended (in class/online learning) model where we have some restrictions still in place with respect to numbers of students, social distancing and all of those kinds of things, and we have to move forward with that understanding,” Gilmore stated.
“These are very uncertain times. With the uncertainty, we will have to respond to whatever it is the government decides, and do our best to act accordingly.”
On Wednesday the Alberta government announced it would be providing the Lethbridge School Division with about $4.25 million in additional maintenance grants for “shovel ready” projects as part of its economic stimulus plan on top of the $2-million increase in plant operations and maintenance funding announced for LSD during the spring 2020 budget.
These funds are not transferable to the school division’s instructional budget.
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