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Budget

Funding shortfall results in Pembina Trails approving a deficit budget

Our board has navigated underfunding to approve a budget for the 2021-22 school year. This process was beyond trying, given current realities and the multiple layers of fiscal challenges such as a reduction in provincial education investments, a government directive to freeze the property tax levy, the current pandemic, our growing communities, inflation and a recent arbitration award.    


McMillan goes on to say, "Deferring an unprecedented amount in infrastructure maintenance and using $930 thousand from our surplus funds to cover necessary building repairs is far from ideal and not a permanent solution.”

Without the ability for our board to raise funds, through taxation, Pembina Trails had no option but to cut more than $6.6 million in expenditures. These funds would normally be intended to support projected enrolment growth and increased staffing costs. Our draft budget proposed reductions to services that support our 15,000 students.    

“We heard from many homeowners who shared that they would support a small tax increase, if it meant saving valued resources. Our board has carefully considered stakeholder feedback that advocated against cuts.”      

As a result, we are using $616,300 from our accumulated surplus fund to minimize high school class size increases and reductions to teacher-librarians. We are also using data driven information on learning to increase targeted literacy support, by four positions, in our early years schools. This investment will directly help our students dealing with pandemic related learning loss.     

Moving ahead with this budget, means we are sacrificing future financial stability. Our board and senior leadership have been in numerous conversations with the province regarding the realities of budget 2021-22.

  • Combined operating and capital expenditures $183,772,080
  • Increase in combined operating and capital expenditures $3,126,081 or 1.7% Percentage reduction in school taxes on the average homeowner 3.0 per cent or $5.67 a month.   Increasing high school class sizes  
  • Reducing middle years teacher-librarian time by 25 percent and high schools by half
  • Reducing English Additional Language specialists in K-8
  • Reducing divisional-based allocation for educational assistant staff
  • Reducing school instructional budgets
  • Deferring the Kindergarten Here We Come program during the 2021-22 school year
  • Placing building maintenance and ongoing improvement projects on hold

Funding sources

The main source of financial support comes from the province. The current provincial directive does not allow our board to raise additional funds through local property taxation. In lieu of raising local property taxes, the province is providing a Property Tax Offset Grant (PTOG) in the net amount of  $2,166,351.

We are using $1,546,300 from our accumulated surplus to offset expenditures in 2021-22.

Impact on taxpayers

As directed by the province, the property tax levy for home and business owners are frozen at 2020 levels. The typical homeowner with a house valued at $436,889 will see a decrease of $68 a year or $5.67 a month in 2021 school taxes.

A look at some of the operation and administrative reductions

  •  Increasing high school class sizes 
  •  Reducing middle years teacher-librarian time by 25 percent and high schools by half 
  •  Reducing English Additional Language specialists in K-8
  •  Reducing divisional-based allocation for educational assistant staff
  •  Reducing school instructional budgets
  •  Deferring the Kindergarten Here We Come program during the 2021-22 school year
  •  Placing building maintenance and ongoing improvement projects on hold

Spending increases

  •  Pembina Trails continues to grow. We are projecting 335 new students in 2021/22. In a year of underfunding, this means that we will not be able to provide all the support needed by our students. We are not able to add the necessary teachers to maintain current class sizes at the high schools nor the same human resources to our award-winning learning commons/libraries.
  • The recent Pembina Trails Teachers’ Association arbitration award totaling $12.5 million over four years means that we need to divert funding to cover the retroactive award.
  • The cost of running safe schools during COVID-19 came with unforeseen investments such as hiring new teachers, educational assistants, remote learning consultants and caretakers.
  •  Increase literacy support by four positions in the early years schools. This data driven investment will directly help students dealing with pandemic related learning loss.  
  • Our board also invested in 860 webcams for classrooms to support remote teaching and learning, as well as the installation of a new security fob system for schools.

View the summary budget here.


Here is a list of our previous frame budgets:

2021/22 Frame Budget

2020/21 Frame Budget

2019/20 Frame Budget

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