Board debate on RAM funding April 19

As a way of increasing transparancy, ARTICS has provided this synopsis of the debate on the budget item for parents. We don’t guarantee the accuracy of every item or statement. It our best effort to capture what went on for this section of the debate.

CBE Board meeting – April 19, 2011

Debate on Item 6.3

Resource Allocation to Schools Early Spring Staffing

Trustee Carol Bazinet declared a pecuniary interests in the matter because she is married to a CBE teacher and based upon legal advice she was making the declaration. Trustee Sheila Taylor also declared a pecuniary interest stating that she is the parent of a child and has younger children and pays school fees. Both left the board room.

Chief Superintendent Naomi Johnson started with a power point presentation titled

Keeping students first. She said it would give history and to develop some context for the board and those attending.

Johnson: As you know over the past two months we have been grappling with $61.7 million shortfall. By law, we must balance the budget. Three quarters of budget goes to schools . We can’t have this shortfall without having an impact on schools, teachers and students.  The early release of resources to schools allows principals to plan funding. But she said the report presented Monday was updated.  Instead of 2.1 per cent increase in RAM it will be 3.0 per cent. The board will use 12 million of reserves

Johnson: She said there have been two phases of the process. The one introduced March 22 – included the redesign of central services to save $29.4 million – resulting in a loss of 172 FTE positions. She said they had been asking schools to absorb the remaining $24.8 million shortfall.

Now we propose to deplete remaining reserves. With RAM, schools will be asked to apply all school based reserves – which could save about 38 positions – reserves are already in schools. (Our question: how have these reserves accumulated? Are they from parent fees?) The reserves presented tonight are 6.5 million more than the original reserve estimate. . . so the CBE is now using  $18.5 million of reserves, rather than the $12 million presented earlier.

Admin has dug deeper to find more – net $3.9 million  and with a small revenue increase, the RAM will now  mean that schools must absorb  $14.4 million –including the applied 2.7 million in reserves. Increasing the RAM percentage to 3.0 is good in this impossibly difficult budget year and this $10.4 million difference may save more than 100 teaching positions.

Questions

Lane: I’d like to get more info on the dollars that come in from out of the amortization. Is that using capital dollars for operation purposes?

Admin: Each year, during the fiscal year – we amortize assets –  money gets freed up to replace assets for the next year – part of this is some amortization. There is three million that we could use to spend on capital assets from the Safran Centre – it’s a renovated building, instead we are doing it –  to apply from operating sides . We are doing this in the current year to reduce capital expenditures by $2 million – but it’s board funded capital – and not from the province.

Lane: Is this sustainable?

Admin: Deferring capital purchases to some time in the future: Only using the part from the Safran – won’t be tied to the small piece. . .this is a short term solution.

Ferguson: This report is now incorrect. . . the amount provided to schools will still be short by how much?

Admin: This report represents a point in time – as we play this out and did our timing – and this report is now out of date. Things happen as we plan and go forward.

Admin – They are getting a 3 per cent increase in funding against a 6 per cent decrease in overall funding .

Ferguson: how does the cost of the salary increase – how does the grid movement come in? What is the effect of that cost increase on schools?

Admin: AAWEI means an approved 24 million dollar increase to the  to the CBE and we also have over $8 million in grid increments to teaching staff. These are not funded by the province.

Cochrane: Class size initiative lost the funding . . .but our undestanding is the province will still expect us to meet class size. What will class sizes look like?

Admin: Continue to have several million to class size funding and have aimed it at Div 1 – done an analysis of what that might look like – estimate in K-3 will be under 20 – and will be 19-18 to one teacher.  – estimate it could go up 19.2 from 18.2 now– will be under 20 – may go up a bit.

Cochrane: Enhanced funding for ESL – was a budget line removed from this year’s budget. What will happen?

Admin: There will still be incremental funding – what is missing was $407 per student – There will be a RAM and director will be increasing up to 3 per cent in instructional dollars for them.

Ferguson: Full day kindergarten – board implemented full day kindergarten for – will continue to support why we should still do that. Recognize that we find value the province has been unable to find any funding for us. This is a decision the board has made on student need.

Admin: We have been considering full day kindergarten in the areas, we have been tracking success of the kids in these classes – we think it is making a impact – knowing that it is working we felt it was important to keep it as it is. Look next fall to see what our enrollment is.

Admin: Gains made by this particular population (due to full day K) stays with these children. If we didn’t do this there would be additional costs to support these children later on.

Lane: Want to ask an important question about layoffs. There has been the impression that was out there in the public – a lot of positions cut, but my understanding is that we’ve handled them through through attrition and retirements. What will happen here?

Admin: Best way to start is that there are a significant number of moving parts. We look at opportunities – our best estimate is that we will have 440 teachers requiring placements – best estimates of people returning from leave, redesign – have 133 probation – 110 retirements, 100 resignation, 100 leaves we granted – and about 40 secondments. We look at this daily and the landscape keeps on changing. Number of opportunities  – it is conceivable that there are 133 of the youngest and brightest that won’t have contracts. We will look at strategies to protect our investment in the future.

King: Special Education programs – what are all these acronyms in the report – and what does it mean for our special needs kids?

Admin: We have identified a number of specialized programs that we are consolidating or eliminating – decision is not budget related – but it frees up some dollars to be used elsewhere.  Programming outcomes are viable and effective. These programs – new directions, connections, stop leap – short term assessment based programs. Intent is to help us understand how the student learns. We are better able to program support for them. She went into explaining in detail how and where these specific children would fit in the new plan.

King: Recognizing that we are a pupil driven organization. There is not one person in system doesn’t care about kids; I have to ask – is this the absolute best we can do for schools   . .have we cut as much as we can?

Admin: We have been about work for three weeks – we have cut significantly from learning support –  – cut 50 per cent from AISI teaching staff who support our schools . . .cut significantly from learning innovation  – there will be fewer custodial staff in schools next year. As we look at the RAM we will understand – it is a planning process – until we get to Sept 30 and see who are the children in our classes in our schools. Every person in the organization actually supports the classroom – when we consider it – we will have significant impacts.  As we come to understand what the budget means – if there is any more resources we can return to schools. We got money from the province last July and we were able to roll that out as well without redoing the budgeting process. . .best of our understanding at this particular point in time.

Motion to accept this report and subsequent amendments .

Lane on debate: I think it is an impressive report giving the difficult circumstances . We are at this point where we really have to move – planning is paramount at this stage. I will vote for motion.

Ferguson: Rollout of budget process is important.  I know that the admin redesigned to cushion as much as possible. This has been time consuming and a constant reference check – proposed layoffs are estimates until principals do their work. Good budgeting a process that involves a lot of people. However, I want to return to what has caused so much of the problem . .   the province . She goes on to discuss how education is continually short changed.

King:  No comments

Cochrane: Thank admin for the work on this – a complex year to sort through this. People want exact details every step of the way . . want to echo Trustee Ferguson – our admin has done work to protect the budgets of schools. . but we still have $61 million problem . .our budget is a tool to getting learning into kids. . .it is not static, it changes all the time. Last year we saw it change just three weeks after we passed it – it’s a planning tool- based on values – valuing our children.

Cochrane:  more on about no consistent funding from the province  . need to know what we’re doing from year to year – I’ll warn you, it’s not getting better next year.

Carried unanimously by the four trustees present.

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