Budget Update

Budget Update
Posted on 05/28/2020
The HPSD Board of Trustees approved the budget for the 2020-21 school year at their special budget meeting on May 14. The approved budget required the Division to make calculated financial decisions to address a variety of factors impacting all school authorities in the province. Changes to how school divisions can use their reserve funds, the elimination of the Regional Collaborative Services Delivery (RCSD) Grant, changes to the Program Unit Funding (PUF) Grant, and anticipated increases to insurance premiums are some of the key factors impacting budget 2020-21.

"The Board of Trustees have approved a budget that will continue to honour their strategic priorities and goals with an emphasis on wellness and academic success in light of the COVID-19 pandemic", stated Superintendent Laura Poloz. The fiscal reality of these decisions resulted in decreased funding for Indigenous Success Coaches, Career Coaches, Educational Assistants, and Learning Support Centre personnel. There will also be a change to previously subsidized expenses and fees like tuition, field trips, and other school-based fees.

Board Chair Joyce Dvornek commented, "We have approved a balanced budget that continues to provide a quality, public education to our students while preserving essential services as identified by our students, parents, and schools". HPSD will continue to subsidize dual-track programming at École Routhier School in Falher and Georges P. Vanier School in Donnelly as well as all HPSD in-town busing. To address the loss of RCSD, the Division will also be employing two counselling consultants, one speech-language pathologist, and one occupational therapist. These positions will be in addition to existing division-based supports.

The funding changes to the Program Unit Funding (PUF) Grant will also be addressed in this new budget. HPSD will be working with each of its primary schools to ensure children with unique needs receive the care and support they require. In the revised Program Unit Funding criteria, children 2 years 8 months - 4 years 8 months of age are eligible for services if they have an assessment by a qualified professional of a severe disability or severe language delay and are registered as of September 30. Those who have not registered by September 30 will be recommended to reach out to service providers in their community for support services. Children with a severe disability or severe language delay who are older than 4 years 8 months of age in kindergarten will be eligible for supports from the division-based support staff, community service providers, and through a new Specialized Learning Support Grant which provides additional funding for the entire school jurisdiction to provide a continuum of supports and services to students in an inclusive learning environment. HPSD strongly encourages all parents who are concerned their child may have a disability or delay to seek guidance from either Alberta Health Services or another qualified professional. All Program Unit Funding for Alberta school authorities is based on a weighted moving average (WMA). Having assessments in place well in advance of the school year will allow school authorities to provide accurate numbers to the province to positively impact the WMA to ensure funds and supports are in place. 

Lastly, the School Nutrition Grant realized a decrease of approximately $120,000. We will be working with each of our schools to provide targeted and universal supports, where possible, based on evidence of need and program availability. We know that food insecurity is a reality for students and we are hopeful that we will be able to address some of those insecurities with the dollars provided.

Our new financial reality continues to require calculated decisions that allow High Prairie School Division to continue offering students the education they deserve. In keeping with the mandate from our partners at Alberta Education, the focus has been, and will continue to be, to keep our budget in the classroom supporting students.
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