Monday, June 22, 2009

More budget woes / passages

Three budget stories and three different solutions to arrive at the balanced budget for 2009-10's school year. In Kingston, both English-language boards dipped into reserves to balance budgets, drawing commentary such as this:
"We won't be able to do it again next year unless there is some miracle and we have more money put into the reserve fund," said trustee Helen Chadwick, chairwoman of the public board's budget committee.
"The hardest decision always is to transfer from a reserve fund ... that's really when the concerns come in."
The use of reserve funds was the result of a $1.5-million drop in government funding -- partly due to declining enrolment ($600,000) and largely due to a steep cut in grants for classroom materials and professional development for staff ($900,000).
Both local boards here are dipping into reserves as well to balance their budget with minimal changes in staffing or program. However, long gone are the days when the province would allow boards to keep large non-restricted reserves... now boards are being encouraged to spend to their grants.
Huron-Superior Catholic DSB provides the next example thanks to Sault This Week, noting the board balanced its budget without the use of reserves and only needing to declare 2.5 teaching positions redundant through the budget process.
Lastly, in Toronto a group of parents rallied around MPP offices to lobby for the protection of the Arrowsmith program at the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
The vocal group picketed outside the empty west-end offices of Laura Albanese, Michael Colle and Tony Ruprecht, who were not available to meet with the group.
"These MPPs are the most vulnerable to lose their seat in an election," parent Clint Harder said.
"We are seeking their support or we will work against them on election day."
The MPPs are being asked to lobby Education Minister Kathleen Wynne to keep the program alive, he said.
Of course, they're picketing MPP offices because the TCDSB is still under provincial supervision, and there's no local board of trustees making financial decisions.