The Peace Wapiti School Division has approved a nearly $81.3 million budget. All that’s needed to balance it, is to get approval from the province to use almost $150,000 dollars from capital reserves to cover a deficit in its transportation costs. Board Chair Dana McIntosh says with such a large area to cover, getting kids to school is a huge part of the budget.

“Our bus drivers have to travel over 14,000 kilometres per year. We actually cover over 16,000 square kilometres, so it’s a huge division and we use between 800,000 and 900,000 litres of fuel per year. I believe it’s the third largest transportation system in the province.”

McIntosh explains that in PWSD’s situation, some students are traveling hours every day but are going to schools they have to, not ones of choice. She says the school board plans to keep meeting with local MLAs to discuss potential ways money could be saved or reallocated.

The reinstatement of funding for enrolment growth and education grants has meant about $1.6 million dollars back in Peace Wapiti School Division’s hands. Despite having those funds restored by the province, McIntosh says they aren’t all going back to where they were before.

“Because we’d had the opportunity to look at areas that we could get by cutting when we were dealing with the previous budget, we decided that some of those areas may be able to trim back a little bit and still maintain services to our students while adding services to students in other areas.”

That includes hiring roughly 10 new teachers to deal with the estimated 1.6 per cent enrolment growth.