The Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division has accepted their 2018/19 school year budget. It shows a total revenue of $113.6 million with operating costs of $106.5 million with an operating cash deficit of $2.2 million.
The budget will now be sent to the Ministry of Education of approval.
"It's pretty much a status quo budget," Shelley Toth, Chief Financial Officer with the school board explained. "Compared to prior years in terms of there's still the same types of programs and staffing levels that there was before."
"Obviously we didn't manage to reach a balanced budget because we have faced two years of cuts we just weren't able to recover from so we did pass a $2.2 million cash deficit budget. And we're just hoping that going forward, the province continues to increase funding and we can get back to balance."
"We had a 3% cut last year and 2.1% the prior year and of course, like everybody, your expenses always go up, your inflationary pressures happen every year."
The budget will use funds from accumulated surpluses from previous years.
She added that they have made reductions at the division level to try and cut costs.
"We did manage to make some adjustments in the past two years and reduce our staffing footprint at the division office as well as find some efficiencies over the past couple years but unfortunately, it's not enough to make it balanced."
The provincial government did provide an increase to the preventative maintenance portion of the budget.
"In addition to operating funding from the government, we receive separate funding for preventative maintenance and renewal, also known as PMR. That's restricted funding for certain things such as building maintenance, so your roof replacements, heating and ventilation systems and that sort of thing. That is a pot of money that the government has increased year after year so we're very grateful for that."
The Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division is responsible for 52 buildings across the division.
As well, they are in the design stages of a new a new Pre-K to Grade 6 school in Weyburn that will be built at the same location as the Junior High.
"Demolition of that building will have to happen this fall. The plan is to have it open for 2020."
She added that while there are no plans for any new schools in Estevan, building plans are put into a priority list throughout the province.
"We do have to compete with other schools across the province so we're still waiting for something for Estevan."