SE Cornerstone to run deficit with 2020-21 budget

The Southeast Cornerstone School Division will run a deficit budget for the 2020-21 school year, after not receiving adequate funds from the province to cover their expenses for the coming year.

The budget was presented at their last board meeting of the current school year, and it will be sent on to the Ministry of Education for their approval.

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The school division is budgeted to receive revenues totaling $112.5 million, with operating expenditures of $111.6 million, and capital expenditures of $11.6 million, including $8.2 million for the Legacy Park Elementary School under construction in Weyburn.

Cornerstone is budgeting for a total staff of 1,065.14 full-time equivalents.

The school division will have an operating cash deficit of $4.6 million, and as was noted to the trustees, the 1.8 per cent increase in the provincial budget for the school division was not enough to make up the funding shortfall.

The funds will be balanced by using surplus funds from the board’s reserves which had accumulated from previous years.

The majority of the school division’s revenues, $97.9 million (87 per cent), come from the provincial operating grants, with $8.5 million (eight per cent) in capital grants, and $1.5 million from tuition fees. The revenues also includes $1.5 million from other sources and $3.1 million in school-generated funds.

Breaking down the operating expenses, the biggest chunk of the money goes to salaries and benefits, $79.9 million or 72 per cent, with $24.4 million (22 per cent) budgeted for goods and services, $6.6 million goes to amortization, and $600,000 goes to debt service.

The other capital expenditures, in addition to the new school, include $1.5 million for computer hardware and equipment, with eight schools to be refreshed along with an upgrade to the school division’s data centre; $1.5 million for school buses (about eight new buses); $225,000 for five fleet vehicles, and $131,000 for furniture and equipment.

The school division also has to submit a three-year plan for preventative maintenance and repairs (PMR) for the division’s school facilities. For the 2020-21 year, Cornerstone has a total of $2,897,345 for PMR projects.

Among the projects is an allocation of $100,000 to relocate the playground equipment from Queen Elizabeth, Haig and Souris Schools to the Legacy Park ground, roof and HVAC repairs to several facilities, and repairs to facilities throughout the school division.

The three-year plan lays out the roof, HVAC and other facility upgrades around the school division in the following three school years. Cornerstone has projected a revised cost of $2.25 million for the 2021-22 school year, $2.615 million for the 2022-23 school year, and $2.45 million for the 2023-24 school year.