Red Deer students hit the books for another year as classes for both Red Deer Public and Red Deer Catholic schools begin today.
Officials with both school boards said they are looking forward to the start of a new year but each have their own challenges to overcome.
“We’re looking forward to the new year,” said Bill Stuebing, chair of the Red Deer Public School Board. “Every year brings with it new challenges and we look forward to conquering them.”
He added some challenges the public school board faces this year includes funding from the government.
“We have planned on drawing out of our surplus to cover our $600,000 deficit,” said Stuebing. “Funding is definitely something we’ll have to keep an eye on as we do every year.”
He added classroom space and maintaining progress made in the areas of student achievement will also continue to be challenges.
“Last year we experienced the highest student achievement we’re ever seen and we will look to continue that,” said Stuebing.
He added student enrolment for the district is already higher than anticipated.
“I think we’ll probably end up with about 100,000 students,” said Stuebing.
Meanwhile, in the Red Deer Catholic School Division, officials said new facilities to help combat crowded classrooms are something they are looking at finding a solution for.
“We have excellent facilities but they are crowded,” said Christine Moore, chair of the Red Deer Catholic School Board. “More people are looking to enroll in Catholic education and we are so grateful for that, but we need to find more space to accommodate the growing numbers.”
She added she is optimistic the school district will hear from the government regarding funding for new facilities in the near future.
Moore said another thing the district looks forward to is offering Catholic education to students in Olds and surrounding areas.
“We are set to open our new school there and that is very exciting,” she said.
She added the school division is also looking forward to its youth ministry program.
“We’ve expanded that program and now have two full time youth ministers,” said Moore. “We’ve also expanded our pre-Kindergarten classes as well.”
She added the board is also thankful for the provincial government’s contribution of $2.92 million to be used for teacher and support staff salaries.
“We most definitely will be taking advantage of those funds,” said Moore.
She said the board also faces about a $600,000 deficit this year.
“We were originally anticipating a $1.8 million deficit and we will use our reserves to cover that,” said Moore.
In addition, Moore said the division’s enrolment also seems to be increasing this year.
“We have 70 more students at St. Pat’s and we have 80 more at Notre Dame so far.”
Both school boards will determine their student populations at the end of September. Those numbers will be used to lobby the government for funding.