Catholic Division passes balanced budget without accessing reserves

Herald file photo.

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division has passed a balanced budget without having to dip into their reserves.

The board of education passed the budget during their meeting on Monday evening. Education Director Lorel Trumier said that they were happy to get a balanced budget approved.

“I think that all school divisions across the province are experiencing the challenges of the budget,” Trumier said. “Some key pieces are definitely keeping up with things like inflation rates or increased costs of operations, whether it is with our staffing picture or utilities or supplies.

“I think there is not a school division in the province that isn’t experiencing those kinds of things, so we are certainty among them,” she added.

“We know that there are some tough decisions that sometimes have to be made and sometimes there is priorities of program planning. We obviously try to do the best we can as we go through each of the budgeting processes and balance the needs of our students first with the needs of the operational demands.”

The board looked at different options to achieve a balanced budget. Chief Financial Officer Greg McEwen said they had to look at operational costs to find a balance, since the division does not have a large reserve to draw from.

Budget numbers provided by McEwen show the Catholic Division expects $32,860,691 in revenue. The vast majority of that revenue will come from the Ministry of Education’s annual grant. The provincial grant is $25,963,167.

The total expenditures budgeted for 2022-2023 is $33,827,847, with a projected deficit of approximately $960,000.

Instead of dipping into reserved to eliminate that deficit, the board looked to reduce spending on long term debt and capital asset purchases. McEwen said that governance spending did not see any major changes in the budget.

This year, the division budgeted $23,343,240 for Instruction which includes teacher salaries, EA salaries and includes resources for students.

They also budgeted an almost $330,000 increase in overall plant expenditures for Plant operation and maintenance. This varies year to year dependent on projects and includes PMR budget which was previously approved by the board.

McEwen explained that the division is mid-sized in relation to other divisions and doesn’t have much for reserves. That meant they had to make due with the funding they received.

The budget was passed during a closed session but concluded in the Rise and Report section of the agenda.