The Regina Board of Education is projecting a $2.5 million deficit for the 2022-23 school year, with rising costs neutralizing funding increases.

“All available funding is fully allocated, with no contingency funds set aside and little margin to manage cost increases or funding decreases without impacting services,” the board said in its 2022-23 proposed budget.

On a cash basis, the board is forecasting $261,699,734 in revenue and $264,244,200 in expenses, resulting in a $2,544,466 deficit for the year.

The deficit saw a slight reduction from the previous school year, down $913,341 from $3,457,807 in 2021-22.

The school board said approximately $800,000 of the projected deficit stems from “time-limited” expenses and ongoing pandemic impacts.

Operating funding from the provincial government for the Regina Public School Division for 2022-23 is $242.7 million, which is $4.1 million, or 1.7 per cent, higher than the board’s December 2021 funding recalculation.

Inflation, specifically on durable goods and fuel, was identified as a “key area of risk” for the year.

Inflationary pressures are projected to add $200,000 in transportation costs, along with $132,000 in increased insurance premiums.

The board will also be bringing back some pandemic recovery supports due to staff feedback. Supports include: Learning Response Teams (reduced from seven to four FTE), additional counsellor staff, and additional Indigenous advocate positions.

The supports will be funded by reserves.

Student enrolments are projected at 25,008 across elementary, high school, associate schools and home based learning – up 416 from last year.

The Ministry of Education will recalculate funding in the fall based on Sept. 30 actual enrolment totals.

REDUCING POSITIONS

The board will be reducing full-time equivalent (FTE) positions by 46, which includes 19 classroom teacher FTE positions, 10 FTE contingency positions, “pandemic related positions and other one-time initiatives, and division office reductions, offset by increases for equity, diversity and inclusion and IT support.”

The division notes the teacher FTE allocations are recalculated annually based on projected enrollment. The calculations for the 2022-23 school year resulted in 19 fewer positions in the budget than previously estimated, to keep student-teacher ratios consistent.

The 10 “contingency” FTE positions were budgeted in 2021-22, but not accessed.

“FTE reductions can be managed through attrition and will not require staff lay-offs,” the division said in its proposed budget.

The board projects 2,338 FTE positions for the 2022-23 school year.

The FTE estimates do not include additional education assistants (EA) that were funded in the provincial budget. The board is eligible for up to $922,000 in additional EA funding, which equates to approximately 22 more FTE positions.

RESERVE FUNDING

Regina Public Schools had nearly $61 million in reserve funds as of the most recent financial statement on August 31, 2021, but it notes that the majority of that money is set aside for specific purposes and cannot be used to sustain annual spending.

Just under $14 million of the reserve is unrestricted.

Reserves will likely be reduced from the 2021-22 year due to the current financial forecast, the board said.

“Reserve funds are in place to balance off unanticipated budget impacts and one-time initiatives but cannot be relied on for the long-term,” the budget proposal reads.

Offsetting cost reductions were found within the budget, but further reductions were made to “maintain a sustainable level of spending.”

Those changes include:

  • Reductions to facility renovation and contracted services budgets.
  • Transportation efficiencies in light vehicle costs.
  • Reducing Division-level operating (non-salary) budgets and holding some positions vacant.
  • Reducing school operating (non-salary) budgets by five per cent

The budget will be discussed at a Regina Board of Education meeting on June 29 at 5:30 p.m. It is expected to be approved by Aug. 31 by the Ministry of Education.