It was a bit of good news and some bad news for the Board of Trustees of Rocky View Schools (RVS) Nov. 30 as it reviewed the division’s spending and revenue in 2016-17 and to date in 2017-18 during its regular meeting.
“RVS has a $900,000 deficit this year. That was not unanticipated – we did expect to see a deficit of around $4.6 million,” said Karyn Golem, RVS director of finance.
Golem said the reason the deficit was so much less than anticipated was in part due to the growth in enrolment the division had experienced. Overall revenue of $257.4 million was recorded in 2016-17, up $1.98 million or 4.2 per cent from what was anticipated.
“In general, the financial story of RVS, through my tenure and for many years before that, has been one of growth,” Golem said. “Every year for the last four or five years, RVS has experienced a significant amount of growth, averaging over the last seven years at around five per cent.”
RVS maintains a number of reserve funds, some of which are restricted per Alberta Education requirements. Golem said the total of all reserves at the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year was $18.8 million.
Transportation continues to be an area where the division is growing a deficit year over year, largely due, according to Golem, to there being no change in the grants the division receives from the province.
“Given the extreme amount of growth that RVS has gone through in the last few years….there really hasn’t been any significant change to the amount of grant eligible riders,” she said, adding newer schools tend to have more students who walk to school rather than take a bus.
The revenue for transportation was $15.9 million, including approximately $300,000 in increased revenues from fees; however, expenditures were $16.4 million, an increase of 4.9 per cent, according to Golem.
Expenditures include costs to contract with the busing companies, an increase in the number of routes required to service all students, fuel prices and RVS assuming the role of busing students to Prince of Peace Lutheran School in Chestermere, which began in April.
“We are experiencing inflationary costs across the board,” Superintendent of Schools Greg Luterbach said. “When you get the same amount of dollars and your costs are going up, you have to reduce services. With no increase in our grants for even inflation…we can’t do what we did last year. We have to make changes.”
Trustees unanimously accepted the audited financial statement for 2016-17 and approved administration sending it to Alberta Education.
Golem also provided the board with an update to the 2017-18 budget originally approved in the spring. Revenue is projected to be $271.6 million, up 2.8 per cent or $7.4 million from the amount included in the original budget. At the same time, expenditures are now projected to be $274.2 million, up 2.9 per cent from the spring approved budget.
The proposed deficit is now expected to be $2.5 million rather than the $2.3 million projected in the spring. Reserves will be $16.2 million. Golem said transportation reserves will be largely depleted.
“There are going to be some big decisions for this board going forward into the next budget cycle,” said Norma Lang, trustee for Ward 4. “It’s kind of scary to be completely out of funding; especially scary considering how fast that went down over the last three years.”
The board unanimously approved the revised 2017-18 Proposed Fall Budget Update.