On April 18, Laura Shutiak submitted a question to be answered during the public board meeting held on Tuesday, April 19. As we were able to tape the proceedings, the following is an exact transcript of the question and response received.
Question submitted by Laura Shutiak:
Executive Limitation 10 Point 8 states that CBE administration must not “proceed with the early release of resources for staffing at schools prior to receiving Board of Trustees approval.”
As you know, this specific item is up for approval at tonight’s board meeting.
Chair Cochrane told a meeting of parents on April 6, that as much funding as possible would go to schools, and cuts would be felt first at the central office level.
How can you, as trustees, fulfill your fiduciary duty of oversight and ensure that all available money in this difficult budget year will go to schools when you will make that decision now, before you have seen, or publicly debated, a detailed budget that includes all of the CBE’s costs?
(I will remind you that in April last year, Trustees approved RAM funding that they knew would result in layoffs and larger class sizes at schools. Later in June, trustees approved a full operating budget that included significant increases in many central office departments, including an extra 6.7 per cent for the Office of the Chief Superintendent.)
Response by Chair Pat Cochrane:
So, thank you for your inquiry. I am pleased to respond on behalf of the board of trustees. Let me begin by emphasizing that the Calgary Board of Education’s operating budget is only final once it has been approved by the board of trustees typically in June of each year. The board of trustees has an established process for operating budget review and approval. Administration brings forth the reports to the board’s public meetings throughout the year at key decision points. One such report is being brought forth this evening: resource allocation to schools and early spring staffing. The purpose of this report is to authorize our administration to proceed with the distribution of resource allocations to schools to allow for staffing for the 2011-2012 school year to begin. If principals had to wait until mid-June, had to wait for the operating budget approval, to receive their allocations, staffing decisions and planning for the upcoming school year would be completed in late June or early July. This time frame would not provide principals with the time required to engage with their school communities and thoughtfully plan for students for the upcoming school year.
Tonight’s report is being provided before the board in advance of the preliminary operating budget report which is scheduled to be presented to the board of trustees at its May 24 board meeting. The preliminary operating budget details revenues and expenses including allocation of funds to instruction, student transportation, plant operation and maintenance, and administration.
May 24th will be the board of trustees first opportunity to review the entire integrated operating budget. Three weeks later, giving trustees ample time to scrutinize the figures, the preliminary operating budget comes back to a public meeting for approval by the board of trustees and submission to Alberta Education. I believe Chief Johnson has a few words to address the last comments to the increase to the Chief’s budget.
Chief Superintendent Johnson:
Thank you. Ms. Shutiak, as a former employee of the Calgary Board of Education, you would understand then, the unforeseen adjustments to a budget after it is approved. From the 2009-10 to the 2010-11 fiscal years, there was an increase in the budget for the Chief Superintendent’s office. The budget went from to 11.2 million from 10.5 million. The 700,000 dollar increase was made up of four items. First of all, given the increased importance of FOIP legislation and concerns in schools and communities, about the privacy of students, the CBE recognized it needed to adequately resource FOIP stewardship. This required additional investment. As well, there were increasing costs to our external legal council, increasing costs for federal copyright licensing, and finally, general inflationary costs increases which would constitute 700,000 dollars or 6.7 per cent.