With the Provincial Education budget of $2.2 billion for school division operating funding is the most yet offered by the province, it still won't quite stretch to meet the needs of the Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division, according to Director of Education, Keith Keating. 

However, it still comes early in the SECPSD's budgeting process.

"We're still looking at both the revenue and the expenses in more detail, but I can say, from the preliminary numbers, it appears to be a better budget than we've seen in a number of years just from a cursory look at it," he commented.

The increase, he noted, does seem to allow the division to manage some of the inflationary costs they've struggled with over the past two years, but it is still likely they will be running a deficit at the end of the day when the numbers are completed.

"It's a fairly complex formula the government uses to be able to fund education, and one of the factors that drives that is the number of students within the school division, the number of kilometers driven by school buses, the number of facilities you have, and the costs to those," Keating explained. "So it's a fairly complex formula that goes to determine that. We're pretty static in terms of slightly increasing in that enrollment year over year, so those numbers are pretty similar."

As for how the SECPSD will attenuate that projected deficit, Keating said, "We're fortunate that upon amalgamation, and prior to 2015, 2016, we had a surplus of dollars in a pot. So what we've been doing over the past number of years, as the budgets have been very tight from the provincial government, is dipping into that pot in order to manage the school division without having to cut too many supports for students."

While they are pleased to see the budget's allocation for education funding is better than the province has offered in recent years, in a long time, there is still a concern over having to dip into some of that surplus to manage the needs across the school division.

"From our division perspective, I think this is a good start in terms of budgets. I hope to see a continuation of this in future years. I think the dollars that we put into education pay great dividends on the other side, for the citizens that we have in our communities and in the province."