Board approves fall budget update

When releasing the 2017/2018 provincial budget on March 16, 2017, the Government of Alberta stated that, “Education remains a top priority in Budget 2017.” Budget 2017 maintains funding for key public services such as education and funds enrolment growth.

At the November 30, 2017 Board meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the 2016/2017 audited financial statement and 2017/2018 fall budget update.












% of Budget

Instruction - ECS



Instruction Gr. 1 - 12



Plant Operations & Maintenance






Board & System Admin



External Services









Operating Deficit



Horizon has had a tradition of fiscal conservatism that led to an accumulated surplus from operations of $10,828,834 as of August 31, 2015. Over the last number of years, the board has utilized those funds to improve facilities and enhance staffing to improve instruction in the wake of declining enrollments and enhanced staffing costs. In the spring of 2016, the board authorized approximately $2,000,000 of expenditures to address deferred maintenance items and to improve the technology infrastructure at schools throughout the jurisdiction. Additional funds were allocated to the modernization of Barnwell School, Warner School and D.A. Ferguson Middle School. For 2016/2017 the predicted operating deficit of $2,791,745 was an actual deficit of $2,303,329. The variance being primarily explained by the fact that schools did not fully expense what they budgeted. For 2017/2018 the Board restructured its allocation process and provided $350 per student from Board reserves, totaling $962,850, to enhance instruction.


Board Controlled Accumulated Operating Reserve

School Controlled Accumulated Reserves

Aug 31, 2015



Aug 31, 2016



Aug 31, 2017



Aug 31, 2018 (budgeted)



Not including alternative programs or Hutterite Colony schools, Horizon has experienced a decline in enrolment of approximately 450 students since 2009, resulting in a decline of annual revenues of approximately $3.8 million. The board of Horizon School Division has been able to maintain staffing and programming throughout the jurisdiction in both 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 because of its reserves.

For 2017-2018 Instructional expenses total $35,809,542. This includes board provided school staffing such as: teachers, secretaries, librarians, and assistants supporting students with diverse needs. The Board continues to provide some of the best class size averages in the province. In 2016/2017, Horizon was one of 5 school authorities to meet the 2003 Alberta Commission on Learning class size recommendations and continues to meet the recommendations for 2017/2018.



Horizon (all subjects)

Horizon (core subjects)

Provincial Averages

ACOL (2003) recommendation

K – Gr. 3





Gr. 4 – Gr. 6





Gr. 7 – Gr. 9





Gr. 10 – Gr. 12





The $35,809,542 worth of instructional expenses also includes $2,746,794 provided to schools to cover expenses such as: supplies, professional learning, extra-curricular activities, and additional staffing (both teacher and assistant). Including school reserves, schools have access to $4,381,471 to meet student and staff needs. There continues to remain extensive variance in in the amount of school reserves, ranging from $1,800 to $320,000 per school and in schools’ use of reserves; in 2016/2017 some decreased reserves by as much as $45,000 while others increased reserves by $100,000.

In the area of governance and administration, Horizon remains more efficient than the province requires. Horizon spent $442,500 less than the cap in 2016/2017, and is budgeted to be $450,000 under the cap for 2017/2018. This efficiency allows for these savings to be transferred to schools to enhance support in the classroom.

A thorough review of the budget allocation model and operating practices is under way as the board attempts to maintain programming, adapt to fluctuating enrollments, reduced revenue and rising staffing costs. The funding allocations we are striving to balance are independent of board provided staff costs.

Over half of Horizon’s schools have 100 or fewer students and our Board values these small schools. Most of these small schools receive significant funding because they meet Alberta Education’s criteria for “small school by necessity”. This revenue, in many cases, contributes to these schools generating more revenue for the division than they cost us to keep open.

We look forward to continuing to engage all stakeholders as we work towards a balanced budget, as student success truly is a collective endeavor.

For more information on Horizon’s budget, visit