Edmonton Public Schools’ $1.1B budget comes with $18M deficit

The Edmonton Public School Board announced its $1.1 billion budget at a public meeting on June 20, 2017. File/Global News

The Edmonton Public School Board announced its $1.1 billion budget for 2017-2018 Tuesday, which comes with an $18-million deficit.

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With a 3.6 per cent growth rate in the district, board chair Michelle Draper said the deficit was unavoidable.

“We had to make decisions to ensure excellent learning environments for our kids,” she said. “Luckily, we did have those dollars in reserve.”

The school board is set to counteract the rapid growth in the district with 11 new schools.

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While building new schools isn’t cheap, Draper said they will help accommodate Edmonton’s growing population.

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“If growth is not funded over time and it’s not sustained, that’s going to be a real issue for us,” Draper said. “Right now growth is funded, so we were able to draw on the dollars we had in reserve to support and present a balanced budget.”

The budget had the support of the entire board.

READ MORE: Province promises new regulations will reduce school fees for Alberta parents 

Draper said they had to take Bill 1 into consideration, which seeks to reduce school and transportation costs.

“That has an implication for the district because we’re not quite sure exactly how much that’s going to cost and how that’s all going to unfold,” Draper said.

“But we’re doing the best that we can to ensure parents are aware of what’s being brought forward and we can provide information as soon as we get the regulations and such from the province.”

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