The kind of budget we want to see

The 2011-2012 Calgary Board of Education operating budget report will be presented to the trustees in the upcoming weeks. We’re not exactly sure when. We hope to see a budget that is as open and transparent as possible, in order to alleviate some of the concerns of Calgarians. Last year’s 28-page budget (with another 12 pages of planning strategies and budget policies added to the end) seemed to provide a lot of information, but was unable to provide answers to simple questions such as, “How much is being spent at the school level, and how much is being spent at the central services level?”

Are we just being difficult? What exactly do we want to see? Well, within our own city, is another large school jurisdiction, the Calgary Separate School Division. Their 40-page 2010-2011 operating budget document (with an additional 2 pages of glossary of terms) is quite frankly, a pleasure to read. It is well laid out, easy to read, and provides very detailed information, especially with regards to how the CSSD is spending their money. On pages 30-34, all of their expenditures are clearly laid out and are separated between school expenditures and central office expenditures. They even have their salaries separated from their non-salary expenditures, so that, for example, I can see that they spent $360,538 on salaries and $7,470 in other expenditures under the category “Central Office – Instructional Services – ESL funded.”

A budget such as the one provided to the CSSD trustees last year is what we would like to see from the Calgary Board of Education. We are not asking for an accounting of every single position in the CBE, but we would like to see the numbers broken down much further than in last year’s budget, and separated between school and central services expenditures. Every day, new questions come up regarding the CBE budget and we are hoping that this upcoming budget report will provide some answers.

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