Upper Grand board passes ‘balanced, compliant’ budget

June 24, 2015   ·   0 Comments

The Upper Grand District School Board passed an operating budget of $394,624,216 Tuesday night with thanks to senior administration, finance staff and budget holders who worked since February to develop a balanced and compliant budget.

Marty Fairbairn, the board’s vice-chair and budget chair, was quick to thank Superintendent of Finance Janice Wright, Manager of Budget Sheila Parker and members of the Finance staff for their presentation of the budget.  He also thanked Director of Education Martha Rogers for her determination to balance the budget without cutting the classrooms.

“The province did not announce any new investments in education on April 23,” Mr. Fairbairn said. “We were prepared for a loss of revenue, and had to budget accordingly.  But in the end we came out slightly higher than last year.”

“Every member of the senior team has a system perspective instead of arguing for their own portfolios,” Director Rogers observed. “In my view, this is a good news budget for our schools and our students.

“Thanks go to all the senior staff for holding the line where required, reducing where appropriate and for their vision of where to increase supports for students and how to increase operational efficiency.”

The capital budget of the board is estimated at $45,289,654.

The 2015-16 budget is based on an expected enrolment decline of about 500 students, and with many grants based on the number of students has a negative effect on revenue.

In the circumstances, the province’s The School Board Efficiencies and Modernization (SBEM) encourages boards to make more efficient use of school space.

Over the years, the following grants will be reduced:

• chool Foundation Grant (shifts funding away from small schools – 3-year phase-in)

• eographic Circumstances Grant (changes the way Remote and Rural schools and small community allocations received grants.  Only 11 of the previous 21 schools will be supported through this grant – 3-year phase-in)

• eclining Enrolment Adjustment (to encourage boards to adjust more quickly to declining enrolment – phase in reduced from three to two years).

Budget holders were asked to submit 2015-16 budgets that were 2% less and any new items had to demonstrate that they were directly related to the Strategic Plan, generated revenue or increased operational efficiencies.

The only grants increased by the Ministry were in Transportation; up 2% for contracts, 2% again in the non-staff portion of School Operations benchmark and 7.3% for electricity cost increases.

Due to a reallocation of the total funding provided by the Ministry for Special Education, this grant has increased again this year, in the second year of a four-year phase-in.

An increase of one Full Time Equivalent Itinerant Coach position to support Early Years teachers to focus on the implementation of the intentional play-based learning mandate that is expanding from Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) to grades 1 to 3

The budget is based on a decrease, through attrition and retirement, of 16 secondary school teachers due to declining enrolment.

It provides for one FTE Educational Assistance (EA) to support the Outdoor Education Centre

Software licenses and maintenance fees increased to reflect rate increases and the Canadian/American exchange rate

In classroom computers, the increases reflect continuing increases in data by students, and the computer refresh programs to concentrate on networks this year

Three Mental Health Professionals will bring a new skill set to respond to students needs offset by a reduction in 4 FTE Hall Monitors

Education Projects Other (EPO) funding increases provides for .1 FTE in Library staffing

Increases in Staff Development will support PD for the FDK program, Equity, First Nations, Métis and Inuit , and Environmental Sustainability.

A 0.9 increase in Elementary Principals to support the Couling Crescent community to be housed in Tytler PS beginning in September 2015 and  a 1.0 addition to elementary school secretaries, also for Couling Crescent

Trustees’ salaries will be increased slightly due to changes in enrolment and a small increase in PD

No changes in Director and Supervisory office costs as salaries are frozen at the Government’s direction

A 2.0 FTE addition to the Human Resources Department to assist with disciplinary issues and investigations, and to develop and track a wide-range of PD and training  needs across the system.

The increase of 1.0 position in IT is a temporary position to assist with the implementation of the document management system.

A traffic Officer will be hired on a temporary basis to work with stakeholders on developing traffic management plans for schools

Six Learning Opportunities grants will be enveloped to provide flexibility on allocating resources to student achievement, but must be spent in these areas only.

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