Tag Archives: budgets

Remaining positive through tough budgets.

The new year brings about the worst job (in my opinion) of a Board of Education: setting the budget for the next school year. I guess there was a time when talking about school district budgets wasn’t depressing-back in the heyday of climbing enrollments.

There is a lot of messages floating around about education funding going on these days: some factual, some political, most a bit of both. However, one thing is pretty cut and dry: declining enrollment. We get the vast majority of our funding on a per-pupil basis, so fewer students means less money.

And we are likely to have fewer students next year.

I’m feeling optimistic, though. I actually feel like we could be on the cusp of some exciting changes, a renewed focus on education as a priority in our society. Continue reading

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BC Budget and Education : Better than a Sharp Stick in the Eye

The province introduced its budget today, and while you can’t say it’s good news for education, our expectations are so low that it almost feels like it.

In a nutshell, it seems to me that Health and Education did receive some increased dollars, while almost everywhere else will see the same funding or less. Mostly less. The budget allows for additional funds for some of the “unfunded” raises that have been downloaded on districts, as well as restoration of the yanked Annual Facilities Grant for next year.

These are areas that Boards of Education and their provincial bodies have been screaming (via Canada Post) about for some time, so maybe we were finally heard. There has also been a lot of rallying from other partners in education, including professionals and some great parent-led campaigns right here on the Sunshine Coast.

 Of course Hansen is still calling for more “efficiencies” in our school districts, so there are still some surprises coming. The sharp stick could still turn out to be the better option.

Read a Vancouver Sun article here: B.C. budget keeps tight lid on all spending except health and education

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Guest Post: BC School Closures: A Cure Worse Than the Disease

A bunch of people (what are you trying to say?) sent me Crawford Kilian’s recent piece from the Tyee on school closures, so here it is. Is this relevant to our district?

 

BC School Closures: A Cure Worse Than the Disease

The number shut by BC’s Liberals is 176 and climbing, but here’s why the savings will likely prove a mirage.

 By Crawford Kilian

TheTyee.ca

18 February 2010,

 Forty-four of B.C.’s 60 school districts have closed 176 schools since 2002, and over 50 more closures are certain or threatened over the next couple of years. But demographic projections suggest that closures are a short-term solution that will create a long-term problem. Continue reading

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Is this the “Hill to Die On” for BC School Trustees?

Here is an excerpt from Crawford Killian in the Tyee regarding the vote to pass a “needs” or deficit budget in School District 27 Cariboo-Chilcotin:

“In a move similar to other financial crises dating back to the mid-1980s, the trustees of School District 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin) have voted 4-3 for a budget that would break provincial law by running a deficit.

The decision, taken at a meeting on January 28, puts the board on a collision course with Victoria and could result in the firing of the trustees.”

Read the full article here

See Janet Steffenhagen’s piece on the subject here

It’s a move I’ve thought about, and might take if I’m convinced it’s the best thing for our children’s education. It’s a bit drastic, but most Boards are feeling backed into a corner on the issue of ever dwindling funding to our districts. We are frustrated and many Trustees feel like we are banging our heads on the wall over this issue. The public is feeling the same, as we’ve been hearing clearly during our consultations in the last few months.

It would certainly be taking a stand. Much cooler than writing another letter. There aren’t that many options for taking a stand (or being cool, for that matter) as a Trustee, so a move like this would certainly get some attention. It might be the only way to finally say “enough is enough.” Continue reading

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“It was my understanding there would be no math”

The Sunshine Coast Board of Education had to put their own mathematics skills to the test on the first day of the new school year.

The first day of school is always an exciting time, full of promise and hope. Unfortunately, this year that excitement was overshadowed by an unshakeable sense of anxiety due to the recent cuts to our educational system.

Faced with the challenge of keeping our children learning, our staff employed, and our buildings standing amidst these cuts brought on a flurry of numbers and scenarios.

Our senior staff worked tirelessly to come up with options for the Board.

While there are still some details to sort out, the one thing that the Board of Education has committed to is not laying off any staff due to these cuts. Continue reading

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Board of Education Budget Review

OK, finally some Education news.

Too bad it’s bad news.

The BC budget announced Tuesday confirmed that wewill receive less funding for the upcoming school year. Districts will not receive Annual Facility Grants (usually around a million bucks for School District 46.) These funds are used to maintain our aging facilities and it will be a real scramble figuring out how to get by without them.

There will also be changes to the Community Link funding we receive. These funds directly support vulnerable students on the Sunshine Coast, and it’s not clear whether the changes will result in less money for the programs that support vulnerable kids.

Even more interesting is the announcement that the government plans to review Boards of Education in an effort to save even more money, much like the reviews ordered for Translink and BC Ferries.

Now, I’m all about transparency and accountability for Boards of Education, so in theory, I’m fine with reviewing Boards to make sure they are optimally configured to deliver the highest level of education possible. There is, however, the question of what criteria will be used to decide what makes B of E’s more “efficient.”

In the business world “efficiency” means delivering the maximum number of dollars into the pockets of shareholders and executives. Period. The end always justifies the means in business.

However, in school districts our shareholders are the kids and our currency is knowledge. If a review is geared towards getting kids more of that, than I fully embrace the idea. If the purpose of a review is to free up more money to fund Olympic cost overruns and ballooning government salaries (and pensions), then I’m not quite as excited.

I guess reviewing Boards Of Education will be one step closer to my dream of a meaningful review of the mother of all money pits: the provincial government and its bureaucrats. If the Earls and Dukes of British Columbia will commit to that I’ll willingly cut my Personal Assistant, Tad, down to half time.

One can dream.

And I’m just kidding about my PA of course–I couldn’t live without Tad.

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Who will review the reviewers?

The BC Government has ordered an extensive review of BC Ferries and Translink, apparently to look for savings. Even the heaps of gravy slathered over the executives and boards will not be safe from the review, which will likely result in nothing.

I’m no fan of Fat Cat public sector salaries (which are rampant), but one wonders what the government hopes to achieve by conducting a review for independent organizations that in theory don’t have to abide by any recommendations made as a result of the review.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen is quoted in the Vancouver Sun as saying, “During these challenging economic times, we must ensure that services provided to ratepayers are done so in a way that is financially sustainable and provides maximum value for all British Columbians.”

Why not do that all the time?

While this seems like a token gesture we can hope (dream) that a similar process will be used to review the performance of the fattest of the public employee cats : elected politicians. A review of our political systems to”ensure that services provided to ratepayers are done so in a way that is financially sustainable and provides maximum value for all British Columbians,” is the one thing that would be supported, nay applauded, by said ratepayers. It is also a matter that politicians could actually do something about, as they (I guess I have to start saying “we”) name their own salaries.

This built in “Cats guarding the Mouse House” system is yet another antiquated way that those holding public office are shielded from accountability, and largely regarded as the Lowest of all Life Forms.

A title which most seem content with.

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