The Rocky View School Division has set its top priorities as it begins its 2019/20 budget process.

RVS board chair Todd Brand says the board settled on four priorities which were virtually identical to the ones from last year.

"We want to make sure the budget emphasizes direct classroom instructions, so making sure money gets into our classrooms to meet the direct needs of students,” explains Brand.

Support for mental health is another of these priorities. Brand believes in recent years the awareness of how much mental health issues affect both staff and students has become very apparent. He says whether its a higher rate of mental health issues or simply that schools have become better able to recognize the issues and better understand them, schools know it's their responsibility to look after the whole student.

"Part of that is making sure we've got proper mental health supports in place," says Brand. "Mental health supports are seldom inexpensive and although we only have a limited amount of money that we would call discretionary, we want to make sure that some of that is diverted into supporting both students and staff when it comes to mental health issues, needs or treatment."

High priority is also given to inclusive education and continued financial emphasis on literacy and numeracy skills.

“Secondly we want to make sure that there's still high priority given to inclusive education so that with these more diverse classrooms that we were talking about that we can make sure we're diverting funds into support for those classrooms. Mental health supports was another one of our priorities and the final one was continued financial emphasis on both literacy and numeracy skills."

The board then will likely "tweak" those priorities to align more closely with Rocky View's new Four Year Plan which is nearly ready to be implemented, says Brand.

"Because the Four Year Plan is not yet complete, we decided not to try and focus on those objectives but to stay with ones that we've been focusing on for the last couple of years."

The trustees recently approved its budget priorities.

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