After ending the 2022-23 school year with a deficit of over $1 million, the Hanover School Division is projecting another year in the red by the time June rolls around.
At the school board meeting Tuesday night, board chair Brad Unger presented an update on the financial picture which indicates they are already projecting a deficit of $800,000.00 by the end of the current school year.
This past spring, the board was forced to cut $2.7 million from the 2023-24 budget and the division followed that by meeting with local MLA’s and government ministers, pleading their case for adequate funding.
Unger noted at the meeting this week that the Hanover School Division is a not-for-profit organization.
“We have X amount of dollars in our budget, and we are doing our best to use it for the betterment of all our educational services to our students,” he said. “Our taxpayers expect that we will be fiscally responsible each year with what we have. We have no ability to increase taxes or generate more income.
“Each year we ask the province for more funding, as we did for this current school year, but we know from the last few years that we do not receive what we request.”
Unger added that increasing funds to one service offered in the division will always result in an equal decrease in another service.
“We received a 1.8% provincial funding increase from the government for this school year and a 0.2% increase for the last school year.”
He added that the difficult financial situation in Hanover School Division is the result of a funding shortage from the provincial government.
In Unger's address to the public on Tuesday, he also indicated the amount of money HSD has put toward a budget for educational assistants.
“Over the two years prior to this school year, HSD increased the number of EAs in our schools by 40% to assist the growing needs of the community. And in the last couple of years, we have also increased our EA budget from $6.3 million dollars to $9.6 million, an increase of more than 50%.
“With all this in mind, the Board feels we have made a fair and reasonable offer to the EAs. We are willing to meet with the EA negotiation team at any time to continue talking.”
Unger added that the school division has no intentions of ever locking EAs out during strike action.
“They are welcome back anytime,” he said. “As I look around this table, I can tell you that our biggest concern is the well-being and education of each and every student that our EAs serve. With that in mind, we are going to ensure that our EAs will have a supportive and welcoming environment at all times, whether during the strike or after.”
Also on Tuesday, Finance Chair Ron Falk said there are 297 more students in Hanover schools this year than budgeted for. This resulted in the division hiring an additional 8.25 teachers as well as six EAs.
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