Former Trustee Questions Credibility of Current Board of Trustees

This open letter was presented to the Board of Trustees of the Calgary Board of Education at their public meeting on November 1, 2011.

Chair Cochrane and Trustees:

At your October 18, 2011 public board meeting, you passed a motion directing administration to distribute the new provincial funding to principals of schools, using the resource allocation method (RAM). As you know this is the same method used for school budgets each year and on Oct 19th, the CBE issued a press release about the specific direction by the Board of Trustees to distribute funding using RAM.

Last year, additional provincial funding of $18.6 million was received and disbursed, without direction from the Board of Trustees. The actions of Administration went unchallenged by the Board.

With these new dollars, the trustees specifically directed administration to use the ‘resource allocation method’ because trustees wanted to ensure equitable – not equal – funding. Equitable funding ensures more for those with greater needs.

If the new funding were distributed equitably via RAM, more funds would be directed toward schools where student needs are greater. Some examples – English language learners, often children of immigrants, aboriginal children, and children with special needs. In addition, more funds would be directed toward reducing class sizes in grades K-3, the only division where the CBE is not currently able to meet provincial targets.

The desire of trustees was clear. During the October 18th board meeting, trustees spoke in favour of distributing funds through RAM to meet the public priority of supports for students with special needs and to effectively reverse the losses schools suffered from the budget shortfall. Chair Cochrane recognized that RAM was developed by senior leadership to equitably distribute funds, according to the values of the Board of Trustees. The trustees agreed that RAM incorporated their priorities, and thus chose not to establish other parameters around how the funds would be distributed.

Ignoring the directive from the Board of Trustees, the chief superintendent chose to distribute the funds equally, on a per student basis, as described in the November school newsletter insert. No matter what needs a school has, or what differences affect a school’s population, each school will get $155.30 per student. The Board of Trustees was clear in their direction to the administration that this is NOT how they intended the money to be distributed.

Chair Cochrane and trustees, we acknowledge that you are a policy board. You did a good thing for students when you passed the motion to have the new funds distributed using the ‘resource allocation method’ (RAM). It is the job of the board of trustees to govern. Giving up your governance role by allowing administrators to act contrary to a decision of the Board of Trustees causes the public to lose faith in their elected trustees, and endangers the Calgary Board of Education’s public image and credibility. We are requesting that you the Board of Trustees continue to do the right thing and not permit administration to govern the system, but leave that work for the CBE elected representatives.

Carole Oliver
Past trustee of the Calgary Board of Education
Executive member of the Association for Responsive Trusteeship in Calgary Schools

4 thoughts on “Former Trustee Questions Credibility of Current Board of Trustees

  1. Under the Carver model, is this not grounds for dismissal of the Chief Sup? As well, leaving the money at the total discretion of the Principal is a mistake. They should have been directed to use the money for reduced class sizes, not their own pet projects, admin retreats, new furniture, or other questionable uses of this additional funding.

  2. Good issue. I am also concerned about two things
    One is how teachers and the government will now negotiate contracts as one (as they did for the pension thing) and this does make having local boards superfluous. I smell big brother at work.

    second- this plan for 4 year olds in kindergarten is not good for kids. It may be great for parents who seek a more reliable daycare but kids that little have real trouble being that stimulated by so many other kids so long each day. Too much too soon and may make them dislike school not like it. They may feel they are not as good as, as popular as others and may not have the great success experience they’d have if we just let them have one more year of love within the home.

  3. I don’t have a problem so much with allocating the new funding on a per pupil basis but I do think there should have been direction : namely hiring of staff – whether that be regular teachers or the support staff required for special programs on special needs.

    As far as the Kindergarten issue is concerned : perhaps it could be half day for all kids and optional full days? Just a thought.

  4. It is not the position of ARTICS to take a stand on whether the funds should have been distributed through RAM or on a per pupil basis. However, we will take a stand when we see that the trustees are allowing their Chief Superintendent to ignore their direction and allocate the funding in a different manner than specifically directed by them through a public motion.

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