The Regina Catholic School division managed to avoid a $650,000 deficit, passing a balanced budget at its board meeting Monday night.
However, board chair Frank Flegel says while administration managed to find savings to make the 2016-17 school year budget work, future budgets may hold even more challenges.
“The bottom line is, as far as our budget is concerned, we’re OK,” Flegel said following Monday’s meeting. “Now, having said that, of course we are disappointed that the government is not picking up the entire salary increase (for teachers) … we had to find that.”
Flegel says there will be no layoffs or cuts to staffing in the school division. However, there will also be no new initiatives or programs, and some projects will have to be delayed.
Flegel credits much of the budget to the school division’s administration, saying they managed to find savings through a new bus contract, changes to bus routes and a renegotiated energy contract for natural gas.
While Flegel was disappointed that the division had fund part of the teachers’ salary increase, he credited the provincial budget for providing the school board with funding based on this fall’s enrolment numbers – something that wasn’t done in the previous provincial budget.
However, the school board’s concerns are far from over.
“Next year, who knows. We are concerned about next year, what it’s going to look like considering what we had to go through this year. And if the commodity prices don’t increase very much … we could – not only ourselves – but all of the school divisions could be in trouble.”
While Flegel acknowledges the challenges facing the province economically, he pointed out that as far as the school boards are concerned, there has been no solid definition as to what “transformational change” will really entail.