Strait regional school board superintendent Ford Rice (left) is seen here with newly elected chair Jamie Samson, and vice-chair Richelle MacLaughlin.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Strait regional school board (SRSB) officials say they are pleased with several funding increases outlined in their new budget.

The SRSB approved its budget for 2017-2018 at the board’s regular monthly meeting on December 6.

“I think, for us, it’s a good news budget. I think we’re able to really put money in the classroom where it belongs to support student success and achievement,” said SRSB chair Jamie Samson.

Following the meeting Chris Grover, director of finance for the SRSB, said the total budget of $81,002,811 saw approximately a 2.6 per cent increase from last year. The board saw several increases due to funding initiatives implemented by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions.

“We had investment in a number of areas. One would be the class size initiatives for Grades Primary to 6. We received an additional $260,000 in that regard, which is equivalent to about five positions,” said Grover.

Grover said the board also saw additional investment in literacy, which increased approximately $257,900 over last year, enabling the board to create three additional reading recovery positions.

“On the math strategy side, we received an additional $256,100, which again, was three additional math support positions,” said Grover.

The SRSB also received funding to support a class size cap in junior high and high school classrooms, resulting in four new positions. Additional math and literacy support for junior high schools also added four new teaching positions.

In total, the SRSB officials say the new budget includes 19 new teaching positions and five new teacher assistant positions.

Additionally, the board received provincial funding for eight Pre-Primary Programs which were rolled out at schools across the SRSB in September.

Two local schools, Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/Academy and East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy will receive Priority School Grants of $50,000 each. The grants are part of a pilot initiative through the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions to provide funding to schools with the most complex classrooms.

The passing of this year’s budget, which would normally take place in the spring, was delayed due to the provincial election in May.