With all the budget decisions made by the Calgary Board of Education Trustees in May and June 2011, we are entering the 2011-2012 school year where teachers have been trimmed in the classroom despite Chair Cochrane’s assertion that the trustees would minimise the impact on the classroom. No matter what your political leanings, it is clear that there is plenty of blame to go around. Yet the problem remains. No last minute changes to the CBE budget with decisions that could have cut expenses in other areas. No public debate over the expense of moving into new downtown offices, no meaningful public engagement on the budget as a whole, and dramatically increasing student busing costs. And from the provincial government, no signs of adding funding until a new leader is picked and likely none for the 2011-2012 school year.
So we are where we are, and we know how we got here. Kindergarten to grade 3, where class sizes are the most important, will not get the essential small class sizes needed to get a firm grasp of the basics. High School, where we are still unable to graduate more than 70% of students within three years of entering high school, will also be a critical area of concern as reports of class sizes of 40 are increasingly common. So parents who feel helpless, voters who feel they can’t do anything about it until an election rolls around, consider joining us. There is a way for you to be heard for future budgets and the time to act and engage is NOW!!
Take note of the 2011-12 budget document report. In it, projected shortfalls are $33.9 million and $85.3 million for the next two years (pg. 6-4). When asked by trustees at the June 14th meeting what the plan was to cover those shortfalls, the administration responded with “we’ll need more funding”. So another year of publicly going after the provincial government for more dollars. We all know how well that worked this year. Dr. Phil says you don’t solve money problems with more money.
So, what can you do about the projected $33 million shortfall for 2012-13 to make sure class sizes remain the same? Join us, follow our blog, read the reports that are presented to the trustees Monday morning before a Tuesday night meeting and if there are expenditures in these proposals, share your thoughts with your Trustee. Other than Capital projects (schools and equipment) , every dollar spent on the operating side affects the classroom. Once these expenditures are voted on and passed, trustees can do very little to change the budget, when it’s presented in June. Keep your eyes open all school year and let them know what you think. Only with your participation can the Trustees make better decisions.