Public and Catholic School Divisions Express Concerns and Optimism Over Provincial Budget

The Fort McMurray Catholic and public school divisions are reviewing the provincial budget to see what funding will look like moving forward.

The GoA released its budget on Thursday highlighting potential improvements in the education sector.

This includes increasing the operating expenses by $100 million to $8.3 billion.

FMPSD Board Chair Linda Mywaart tells Mix News they’re unsure how much of an impact this will have across the province.

“What that doesn’t take into account is enrollment growth and until we see those finalized numbers from the department we won’t really know what that’s going to look like.”

Both districts are looking at potential increases in enrollment during the next school year.

Numbers have been on the rise over the past couple of years, with the FMPSD experiencing a 10 per cent increase during the 2018-19 school year.

The provincial government is also introducing a new funding model for school divisions.

It focuses on reducing the number of grants, making them more specific to certain needs, and changing the annual student count to a three-year average.

“Is it sustainable or not, I think that remains to be seen down the road but I think it’s good in the sense that it’s predictable, we know what we’re getting and we can plan accordingly because of that,” said George McGuigan, FMCSD Superintendent.

McGuigan is remaining optimistic about future funding. He believes this rolling average has the potential to cover enrollment increases.

“We’re in a good financial state, so we’ll be able to continue on and plan for each year as it comes.”

Meanwhile, the FMPSD is keeping its ‘cost of living’ allowance for their staff.

“We felt it was a key component in retaining our staff we have and perhaps attracting staff in the future,” added Mywaart.

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