The 2021-2022 budgeting process was significantly more challenging than previous years. The division experienced a significant increase in the total revenues due to a number of unanticipated factors. Additional provincial grants were received for new curriculum implementation, fuel price contingency, indoor air qualities, and the provincially negotiated teacher agreement. The division also experienced significant increases in revenue from the federal government due to a large number of approved Jordan’s Principle applications. Post-pandemic school activities led to increased financial support by parents and community members which resulted in additional School Generated Funds (SGF) that were difficult to foresee.
Even though the province was not fully experiencing the effects of the pandemic, COVID did limit school activities such as field trips, guest speakers, as well as curricular and extracurricular activities. This reduction in activities significantly impacted the expenses, specifically at the school level.
Northern Lights Public Schools experienced a growth in division reserves due the increase in School Generated Funds as well as schools not fully expending their school based budgets due to the pandemic. Reserves were also impacted by the large amount of hiring of additional support staff. Many of these new support staff members’ salaries were less than anticipated based on lower salary placements related to training and experience. The division also experienced difficulties in hiring some specialized positions originally built into the budget.
As in previous years, the division maintenance team worked tirelessly on several projects. Their ability to carry out their plan was stalled by additional measures required due to COVID. The department experienced a deficit in comparison to the funding envelope provided. Instructional dollars were used to address the shortfall. The division transportation department posted a small surplus specifically due to the late announcement of the fuel subsidy. The surplus is not indicative of the difficulty the division had in recruiting and retaining bus contractors and drivers. Once again, the division had to modify routes to address transportation needs. Contractors continued to be negatively impacted by driver compensation and significant increases in insurance rates.