Notes from Public Budget Consultation - February 6, 2014
What is included in these notes are the discussions or facts that I found to impact the Board or Duke, so it is possible I may have missed a comment or two from the meeting. However, I am also willing to answer or look into any questions that may come up from the notes.
Start of meeting had some presentations from the Students and a community parent. The students talked about how budget affects them and how important involving them in this decision making process is to understanding repercussions. Cuts to the program can affect the teacher's
ability to be effective in the classroom such as through the loss of support staff. Support beyond school, or help for students as they leave school is important as well. One presentation from the students focused on Special Education and howimportant it has been to helping many students and specifically themselves. The parent spoke on the importance of community involvement in helping support children and the role the school has in having a safe environment for children so they can attend school and graduate.
Then there was a budget presentation – a Powerpoint presentation - which I am hoping to find a copy of and share online when I have a chance (if allowed). The focus of the presentation was around balancing the budget and some changes in budget process.
The Board plans to have a balanced operating budget for 2014-15 (to be voted on in full in March) and is working to have a 3 year budget plan out in June to better help schools with the planning of their budgets. Enrolment trends had been going down for Secondary schools and were relatively level for Elementary schools, but Elementary have moved into an upward swing and Secondary will soon follow. This will result in more money for the board. Below are some points on the budget breakdown as percentages:
- Staff costs 83%
- Supplies and Services 11%
- Utilities 2%
- Transportation 2%
- Renewal (maintenance) 1%
- Debt Service Costs 1%
More specifically and to the point of the meeting, there is a shortfall of $12.4 million. Possible cuts/savings are:
Reduction in OT in Facility Services - $900,000 (could impact afterschool events held through SACs)
Facility productivity savings - $2,300,000
Non School based staff reductions through attrition $2,500,000 (as staff leave, the Super and Manager decide if that position is essential or not and will fill it or not accordingly)
Transportation alignment of costs - $1,000,000
Efficiencies in Permit Dept - $100,000 (online Webform system to be implemented)
Attendance Management - $1,800,000 (resulting from recent union negotiations I think)
Efficiencies in payroll services - $200,000 (internal system changes to allow Self Service for staff to make changes and submit claims)
Policy review of mileage claims - $100,000 (simplifying claims, making it easier, streamlined)
In-Year savings $3,500,000 (finding efficiencies in operations that will save money – no specifics were given – more info being requested on this one)
There seemed to be more of a focus from parents on other issues with schools and operations rather than the specific Board budget numbers. There was not much time to ask questions, but questions can still be sent to the Board through SAC or directly if you prefer. (SAC would like to be copied on questions and comments if possible since we are able to track trends and follow up on common issues shared by parents). But to share a few examples of questions/comments:
- Not all Principals have shared budgets with the parents (SACs). Principals should be sharing their budgets as per Sheila (Board
Trustee). However, it is important to note that the expectation is to bring it to parents for review and comment, but the principal is still responsible for finalizing and deciding on the budget.
- How does the Board ensure Principals are sharing the budget? Through the Superintendent and School Advisory Councils.
- Foundation for Student Success money – How is it allocated? Schools have different ideas of how to help with student success based on their needs, students (example, high school transition night, career night)
- Why does the Board have to purchase through approved vendors when they can be very expensive? There are contracts in place for some items: office supplies, furniture, applicances, etc, that have been tendered and bid on by companies. Being a government organization, the Board must be open, transparent and fair in who they buy from and enter into contracts with. This is the reason there are restrictions on purchasing - everyone has a chance to bid and the winner gets the contract.