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No teacher layoffs needed in Chinook's Edge School Division

CESD will use reserves to balance 2024-25 budget, leaving the division with $4.7 million in reserves
MVT stock Chinook's Edge building front
File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL - Teacher layoffs will not be needed in the Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) next school year, despite the division drawing heavily on reserves to balance its newly-approved 2024-25 budget, says superintendent Kurt Sacher.

Trustees in the 11,000-student division approved a $140 million budget at the latest board meeting. The board anticipates revenues next year of $139 million, with a budget deficit of $571,336.

Asked if the division will need to lay off teachers and/or other staff, Sacher said other than reductions due to attrition, there are no plans to make cuts.

“I think any minor tweaks to staffing numbers will be done through attrition,” Sacher told the Albertan. “We don’t anticipate any significant adjustments with staffing.

“We are pretty much sustaining our teaching staff and I think with support staff there’s a small reduction there, but that will all be dealt with through attrition. If people retire, through attrition, you just don’t replace them if you don’t have the budget to continue to support that level of service.

The division will use reserves to balance the budget, leaving CESD with $4.7 million in reserves.

“With a budget of our size we are getting pretty close to the bottom of the barrel in how low we would want our reserve to be,” he said. “You do need to sustain cash flow as an organization. If it gets too low you have to start borrowing money to pay bills, when there a gap between when we receive money from the province and our expected payroll and so on. 

“We don’t want to go too much deeper with our overall reserves."

The Innisfail-headquartered division has seen a marked increase in enrolment in recent years, with 11,300 students expected in 2024-25.

“Because the province responded to enrolment growth or declines in school divisions through a funding formula that provides a gradual increase or decline in funding over a three year period, divisions with enrolment growth see delayed increases in funding,” he said.

Meanwhile, the division has seen a $443,760 or 15.8 per cent decrease in funding for transportation.

“The board will continue to advocate to the province on the challenges facing the division,” he said.

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