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PSSD’s $2M deficit next year due to inflation, carbon tax, inadequate provincial funding

'We have some great things going on in Prairie South ... . And all of those things come to at a cost. The well will run dry one day. And so that is something we will have to pay attention to.'
money
Money.

Prairie South School Division has approved its 2024-25 operating budget and must take nearly $2 million from reserves because inflation, the carbon tax and inadequate provincial funding continue hampering its daily operations.

In next year’s budget, the organization expects revenues of $114,530,620, expenses of $102,470,546 and a surplus of $12,060,074. However, because of capital expenses of $17,969,980 for the joint-use school project, this surplus turns into a deficit of $5,909,906. 

Once amortization expenses are included, the school division will have a deficit of $1,661,452, which will be covered using reserve funding. 

In comparison, the 2023-24 budget saw revenues of $108,114,020, expenses of $95,841,724, a surplus of $12,272,296, capital expenses of $19,160,118, and an overall deficit of $2,619,762. 

Board trustees approved the 2024-25 budget during their recent June meeting.

“Inflation continues to be a significant pressure, as well as the cost Prairie South pays in carbon tax,” board chairwoman Giselle Wilson said. “Our preventative maintenance (and) renewal funding has been held at the same rate as last year, which does not cover the increase in costs.”

The board’s No. 1 priority during the past few years has been to provide sufficient support for classrooms, which is something this budget continues to do, she continued. Furthermore, trustees continue to make pre-kindergarten a priority and maximize those critical development periods so young children receive the best start to their educational careers.

Moreover, the creation of Pathways School has been positive for high school students who struggle in regular settings since it helped them succeed in a more flexible learning environment.

Despite receiving more funding from the province, the board is again accessing reserve money to maintain the same level of services and keep Prairie South’s pupil-teacher ratio low, said Wilson.

“We have some great things going on in Prairie South, things that we are proud of (and) things that we are not willing to lose,” she continued. “And all of those things come to at a cost. The well will run dry one day. And so that is something we will have to pay attention to.” 

This budget puts Prairie South in a good position to serve students next year, while trustees are confident that it will help pupils be successful, Wilson added.

The next Prairie South board meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 3.