The North East School Division (NESD) passed their 2021-22 budget, which is planned to draw approximately $1.3 million out of their $12.1 million reserves to balance the budget.
This is a decrease from the 2020-21 budget, which had approximately $2 million allocated from the reserves to balance it.
Wanda McLeod, the NESD’s superintendent of business administration, said the division is continuing to work towards the goal of not needing to take from their reserves each year.
“We reduce where we can. Of course, there are some contract obligations we have that we can’t reduce,” McLeod said, she added that these include taxes, utilities and payroll benefits.
“What we did in 2021 is we started using a different teacher staffing formula for our schools and that reduced the number of teachers in our schools starting in the 2021 budget, but we couldn’t do the reduction all in one year so we’re doing that over two years.”
McLeod said they don’t have any specific plans for the 2022-23 budget, a year from now, but the division will be looking closely throughout the next year as they plan for the budget.
“What usually happens is everyone is under budget in their expenses and then we don’t need the whole amount at the end of the year,” she said.
“For example we planned to take $2 million out of the 2021 accumulated surplus to balance our budget, but it looks like we won’t need all that $2 million.”
She estimated that by Aug 31, the 2020-21 fiscal year’s end date, they will likely be several hundred thousand under budget.
In 2021-22, the total revenues are expected to be approximately $66.15 million compared to the prior year of $60.72 million – an increase of approximately $5.43 million.
The most significant cause of this increase is grant revenue from the province for the construction of the new K to 12 school in Carrot River, which has increased by approximately $5.2 million. The 2020-21 budget only included $1.1 million in grant revenue for the planning and design work and 2021-22 includes funding for planning and the start of construction.
The 2021-22 funding from the province to the school division provided for the teachers’ salary increase in September, 2021 and also a reduction in funding because of the expected enrollment decline of approximately 103 students.
In 2021-22, the total expenses are expected to be approximately $64.96 million compared to the prior year of $63.49 million, an increase of approximately $1.47 million.
According to McLeod, this increase is primarily caused by an increase to the preventative maintenance and renewal projects of $861,700 and the 9.5 full time equivalent additional caretakers needed for pandemic related enhanced cleaning and disinfection in the schools. Both items are being fully funded by the province.
The 2021-22 budget for the tangible capital assets includes an estimate of $6.58 million for the completion of the planning and the start of the construction of the new school in Carrot River, which is an increase of approximately $5.4 million compared to the prior year.
Carrot River’s K-12 school is expected to open in the fall of 2023.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal