April 20th, 2018

Catholic school board looks at dire implications for upcoming budget

By Tim Kalinowski on January 12, 2017.

The Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education discussed the construction of St. John Paul II School during Tuesday's board meeting.--NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT


Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education secretary/treasurer Greg MacPherson laid out a preliminary framework Tuesday for the 2017/2018 MHCBE budget.

In a brief called “Assumptions,” MacPherson said one goal of the upcoming budget should be to eliminate the annual structural deficit of $317,000 and rebuild MHCBE’s badly depleted reserves.

He suggested this year’s budget should try to achieve a $738,000 surplus, $317,000 of which would go toward the deficit, with the remaining $400,000 being placed in reserves. In order to do this, costs would have to be cut totalling $800,000-$1 million.

MacPherson acknowledged most of this cut would have to come in the form of reductions to salaries, which account for 80 per cent of the division’s annual budget. MacPherson said the board would likely have 50-80 fewer students next year because of population demographics, and something would have to be done to make up for those losses in the budget also.

Trustee Peter Grad agreed the annual structural deficit should be a priority for trustees to consider, but was more concerned about the implications of running a deficit in the board’s reserve fund.

“We are in a precarious situation here,” he said. “If any more is coming (at us), we are going to have to look at cutting programs, which we have avoided for 10 years.”

School construction going ahead at McCoy and St. John Paul II

Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education trustees received an updated briefing Tuesday on progress being made at Monsignor McCoy modernization and the St. John Paul II School construction.

Concrete has been laid and is curing at McCoy and work has continued on the gymnasium. The project is about three weeks behind schedule, putting in doubt its projected opening in April.

About $230,000 in community funds have been raised for the project to date, reported MHCBE communications co-ordinator Della Ward.

At St. John Paul II the piles and grade beam foundation have been installed, and structural steel erection is under way. So far the project is on track for substantial completion in November.

On a slightly embarrassing note, board trustees on Tuesday had to formally adopt the name St. John Paul II via motion months after the dedication ceremony for the school took place. While drawing up the original documents the school was given the title “Building X” to maintain some suspense before the official naming and dedication ceremony; so the motion was never officially brought before the trustees to adopt the name St. John Paul II.

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