The Rocky View Schools (RVS) Board of Trustees is currently reviewing the 2022/23 funding profile.
During the April 28 board meeting, director of finance Steve Thomas explained that the government indicated student funding rates would increase by one per cent after announcing the 2022 provincial budget.
In March, RVS received funding profiles, and the overall funding received was $244.1 million compared to the $236.8 million for the current year, representing an overall increase.
For 2021/22, the total number of student enrollments was less than projected, and funding adjustments will be made.
“The majority of those dollars relates to the targeted funding related to specialized learning areas for severe and moderate learning pieces, that required students to be identified and coded, our actuals were lower than we projected,” Thomas said.
“We’ll be reducing our revenues in the current year. When we consider that, our increase in total funding next year will be $9.7 million,” he said.
With grant funding from the provincial government, the base instructional funding for kindergarten to high school is $161.9 million.
Specialized learning supports are divided into categories including moderate, language delay, and severe.
“These areas we’re seeing services and support funding, a $1.6 million reduction in our grant funding,” Thomas said. “This is going to be an area where we’ll see the decline carry on unless our actual numbers in those areas increase over the coming years.”
In previous years, the provincial government moved to a funding model where coding students was deemphasized, and funding was provided in a lump sum.
Feedback from school boards and parent groups expressed that pre-school and kindergarten-aged students are a vulnerable group, and as a result, targeted funding requiring coding was implemented.
“We did not go through and spend psychologist time around coding children for the purpose of government funding, and now this is the impact, less money,” Superintendent of Schools Greg Lauterbach said. “It’s a chicken and egg situation, where if you don’t code them, you get less dollars, and maybe limit the supports to provide, we’re still having that conversation.”
The board is also seeing $17.8 million for nontarget areas in specialized learning grants, reflecting an increase in student enrollment.
While pre-k funding is being reduced by $377,000 due to low enrollments.
School funding grants have increased by $1.2 million and can be used to provide funding for maintenance and day-to-day operations.
Transportation is now $13.6 million and was the biggest funding increase.
The community funding grant was received at $3.3 million and will cover funding for social-economic funding grants, and the system administration funding is frozen at the 2021/22 rates of $8.3 million.
Bridge funding is $13.1 million.
“Bridge funding is an area that we don’t know how they calculate it. It’s the number we receive, and details haven’t been provided,” Thomas said.
“This is how the money comes into RVS using the grant structure of government, boards have a discretion in most areas about how to spend that money,” Lauterbach said. “Now that we have the money coming in, now the shift becomes how we plan to spend the money.”
Thomas and RVS administration are now working to review and finalize the 2022/23 funding profile.
“We’re working to bring the proposal to the board for approval, and will review the plans,” Thomas said.
“There are a lot of ins and outs, and ups and downs, and tricky spots,” Ward 6 Trustee and Board Chair Fiona Gilbert said. “I look forward to conversations in budget committee to do a deeper dive, and how we as a board can advocate around some of these pieces that tie our hands.”