The Red Deer Public Schools (RDPS) Board of Trustees approved the 2024/2025 budget.  

High projected student enrolments with continued rising material and supply costs, inflationary pressures, and an increased cost for employee benefits have made a tough budget for the school division.   

With a revenue of $134,012,560, and expenses of $134,712,560, RDPS will use $700,000 of reserves to help fund a projected deficit of $700,000.  

“This budget reflects the board's priority to invest in mental health initiatives for all students, as well as to put every available resource into the classroom,” said Nicole Buchanan, Board Chair. “We believe the best place to spend our money is on excellence in teaching and learning.”  

As material and supply costs continue to rise, ensuring ongoing maintenance and improvements are made to schools has become a draw on the division’s budget.   

The division will receive $1.39 million in Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal Funding, and $1.77 million in Capital Maintenance and Renewal Funding, a $711,000 increase from the 2023/2024 school year.  

Another challenge is the continued increase in the rate of costs for employee benefits.   

“The rise in costs for the division is because our employees are accessing their benefits, which is a good thing and the reason those benefits are in place,” said Buchanan. “However, that results in increased costs to RDPS. We appreciate the funding that we receive from the provincial government and Alberta Education, but we still face funding challenges.”  

Risk factors for the approved budget include an uncertainty of what next year’s student enrolment will be, due to the current status of the provincial economy, inflationary cost pressures, and insurance rate increases.   

As part of the budget, staffing levels will be maintained, Student Support Rooms in elementary, K - 8 and middle schools will continue, a comprehensive bullying prevention program will be implemented, and an extensive Staff Learning Day plan to implement the initiatives and strategies included in the Three-Year Education Plan will be developed.   

Superintendent Chad Erickson said the Board of Trustees will engage with parents and the community surrounding the division’s budget next year.  

“We will use the 2024/2025 school year to really engage with our community on how to find the best way forward in regards to our budget,” said Erickson. “Just to continue the status quo, we have to go into reserves. We will also continue to advocate cross-ministry funding so that the dollars meant for education stay in the classroom.”  

The board approved the 2024/2025 budget on May 8 and will submit it to Alberta Education on May 31.