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Board Column: Wolf Creek Board of Trustees begins budget preparations

Wolf Creek Public Schools has begun its annual shift towards the task of budget preparations for the 2024/2025 academic year. This process is not just about crunching numbers; it's about strategically investing in our future — our students.

Our budget is primarily supported by funding from the Government of Alberta, through Alberta Education. How much the school division receives from Alberta Education is determined through a formula called the weighted moving average funding model. This approach uses a three-year average of student enrollment numbers, with more weight given to recent years. This method aims at a more stable and predictable funding base. These funds are allocated by the Board to maximize impact on our students' learning and experience.

A significant portion of our budget, approximately 79%, is allocated to salaries and benefits. This includes our dedicated teachers and staff, who are the backbone of our educational system. We also ensure that a portion of our budget is dedicated to crucial support for students, instructional staffing, transportation, and other operational needs. In Alberta Education funding, a set allocation is granted for Board and System Administration, which are Board and Division office operations. At Wolf Creek, we consistently spend below that allocation, ensuring more resources are directed towards direct educational services, schools and the classroom.

The journey towards finalizing our budget is thorough and inclusive. Beginning in January with enrollment projections and culminating in May with the submission of our finalized budget, each step involves careful deliberation and strategic planning. February's Provincial government budget announcement is a key milestone that shapes our financial decisions. Detailed discussions, beginning with setting the Board budget priorities, start in March and April. It is at this time we have deliberations over allocations, and ensure we address the diverse needs of our students and staff.

Transparency and communication are pillars of our process. We believe in keeping our community informed. Our aim is to create a budget that not only aligns with our educational goals but also resonates with the aspirations of our communities.

Preparing the Wolf Creek budget is a collaborative process that balances fiscal responsibility with our unwavering commitment to educational excellence. As we move forward, we do so with a clear vision, ensuring that every decision we make is in the best interest of our students, staff and school communities.

Luci Henry, is the Board Chair for Wolf Creek Public Schools. Wolf Creek Public Schools Board is served by Trustees representing the communities and rural areas of Alix, Bentley, Blackfalds, Bluffton, Clive, Eckville, Lacombe, Ponoka, and Rimbey. Serving approximately 7,300 students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, WCPS employs approximately 412 teachers and 350 support staff in 30 schools, including five colony schools, throughout the Division.

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