On April 14, the Government presented Budget 2016 in the legislature. In spite of significant fiscal challenges, Budget 2016 demonstrated that Education remains one of the government’s top priorities as they continuing to meet their commitment to provide stable education funding to school authorities and to fund enrollment growth. The Government also remained committed to the large investment in provincial infrastructure. This is great news for Barnwell, Warner, and Taber as Barnwell School, Warner School and D.A. Ferguson and W.R. Myers are all undergoing modernizations. It is also great news for Milk River as the province is currently undertaking a value management review to explore modernizations within the town’s schools. The government communicated that they remain committed to the reduction of school fees and the addition of nutrition programs but these have been deferred due to the province’s fiscal reality.
While Albertan’s are no doubt concerned about the $10 Billion dollar deficit the province will incur from Budget 2016, many Albertans will be grateful as a balanced budget would have had a significant negative impact on programs and services as well as led to more job losses within the province.
For Horizon School Division, Budget 2016 means funding rates remain the same. This will allow us to continue to fund Board priorities as per our three-year plan; priorities such as literacy, numeracy, and student intervention.
Jurisdictional contextual variables will create a number of challenges however. For instance, we are predicting a 2% reduction in student enrollment growth. Grid movement for staff will require additional expenses; expenses that will not be funded by Budget 2016. The Board’s decision to eliminate school fees for 2016-2017, stemming from the province’s earlier commitment to fund fees will also mean less revenue. The jurisdiction will be working collaboratively over the upcoming weeks to responsibility allocate our funds and address contextual changes within schools, based on need.
Marie Logan, Board Chair