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Board approves 2024/2025 Preliminary Operating Budget

On May 27, the Lethbridge School Division Board of Trustees approved the 2024/2025 Preliminary Operating Budget.
The budget comes in at $150.1 million and predicts enrollment will grow by 305 students for the next school year, to a total of 12,534 (including Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten), as the Division is again expected to see a large jump in the number of high school students.
Student enrolment is the most significant factor in determining funding, explained the Division’s Director of Finance, Avice DeKelver, who added the province’s Weighted Moving Average will also have an impact on the 2024/2025 budget.
“Our calculations determined that 12,118 full time equivalent (FTE) is the Division’s projected enrolment for the 2024/2025 school year,” she said.  “However, due to the Weighted Moving Average framework, the Division will only receive funding for 11,836 FTE (note that Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten are classified as 0.5 FTE students under the Alberta Education funding formula). The Division will serve 282 FTE more student that it will receive funding for.  So, while enrolment continues to grow, and is estimated to continue to grow in the next few years, the effects of the Weighted Moving Average will continue to have an impact on the Division’s funding.”
Of the total budget, 77 per cent of expenditures will go towards staffing, for a Division that continues to be the fourth-largest employer within The City of Lethbridge.
A total of 82 per cent of the budget will be spent on instructional services for students. The Division’s Instructional Budget Committee is tasked with allocating funds throughout the instructional programs.
In terms of revenues, those will also total $150.1 million, which represents an increase of 4.38 per cent as compared to the 2023/2024 school year.
“It was a tough budget and discussion, especially considering the fact the Division with not be funded for 282 students next year,” said Board Chair Allison Purcell. “The Board will continue to advocate for full funding for every student but today, we were able to pass a budget that will provide great educational opportunities for our students.”
Purcell added the Board followed through on one of its key budget belief statements, as the budget will support the introduction on a KinderCare pilot program.
“Our commitment to Early Learning has expanded through this budget,” said Purcell. “The addition of the KinderCare pilot program at two of our elementary schools demonstrates our belief that the early years are foundational to student development.”
The budgeting process began back in February during the annual Town Hall event and continued in March, as the Board outlined its budget priorities. Budget development continued in March and April before an online survey was launched in May to obtain public feedback on the preliminary budget.
After final approval by the Board, the budget will now be submitted to Alberta Education by May 31, as required under legislation.