Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ottawa-Carleton DSB early budget woes

This is the first 2010-11 budget story I've seen, given most boards likely aren't near the point of getting into the anticipated fun their upcoming budgets will bring.
Staff at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board have prepared a list of options for trustees to debate at a budget committee meeting on Monday, so they can present their recommendations at the full board meeting on Tuesday. Among those options is cutting 88 full-time jobs.
Cathy Curry has been chair of the board for just over a week, but already she is facing a big challenge to keep her board out of the red.
"Yes, [it's] definitely a situation where there is angst and anxiety, but also a very positive opportunity for all the people at the budget table to give their views, and to explain things to others about how things work on the ground," Curry said Thursday.
But the head of the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers' Federation thinks there are better ways to achieve that than holding up the $14 million as a necessary cut to the budget.
Yes, indeed, there are more ways to find $14 million in a budget that's likely around $400 million to $500 million than going for the jugular. But then, and the CBC Ottawa piece doesn't get into this, what has the board done in previous years? Are support staff levels at the same number they were years ago? Or have they too adjusted with teaching numbers as declining enrolment has taken hold?
I predict this will be a year when the one board that saw an actual reduction in 2009-10 for its grants for student needs (Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland Catholic District School Board) will have some company. The capital dollars and other one-time funds are pretty much done. Full-day kindergarten's first two years will come with little to no capital dollars, and the staffing in these early years of implementation should pretty much be a wash between the teachers who would have left due to declining enrolment and those needed for the ELP.


RetDir said...

The finance staff at the Ministry have been giving clear signals of impending cuts to grants, and some have come already - in capital, and a directive to cut 10% out of the administration line. OC trustees, along with Toronto, have never fully adjusted to the financial realities of the loss of taxation rights, and has never therefore made the cuts it needed to in order to bring its programs into line with the no longer new financial reality. The fact that staff think they have 88 jobs that can be cut is a good sign of this denial. But staff at OC has been good in recommending to the trustees where the budget can be cut - the trustees just never had the political will to do them.

Anonymous said...

Trustees? Political Will? Surely you jest RetDir. Trustees don't seem to be in place any more to make decisions. Trustees need a huge make-over in this province if they're going to survive.

My bet is that OC is just the first of a long line of boards that we'll hear from on the budget front. It's like clockwork - same old, same old.

RetDir said...

I agree that we will hear from a number of boards in the coming months. It will be interesting to see if a pattern emerges. For some reason people keep pinning their hopes on the long-promised review of the funding formula. Given teh current state of the economy the most that will happen is a rearranging of the deckchairs to make political points - and the possible opening up in this sector of P3 agreements for construction. Anyone who believes there will be a big infusion of cash (apart from the one that is already happening because of the 'peace at all costs' labour agreements) must dream in technicolour.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 11 Dec. 07:51
Budget is one of the areas where trustees do still have quite a bit of flex. It's whether they choose to and know how to do it.

A lot of board might have a tough time thinking of themselves as corporate governors. The dirs. of ed and staff implement, etc. The governors direct. Some boards struggle with this. Plus, regardless of how many times staff might bring a recommendation to cut, the trustees can always direct them to go back and find another solution. If they realize they can do that.


Anonymous said...

Cathy Curry with several other trustees are having a hidden agenda and they are acting in bad faith. I accidently came across some of their secret plans, and most of those plans are based on Mike Harris’s agenda of the late 1990s. The rest are based on some researches and studies from various States and the EU. They are busy recycling old and useless trashy ideas. Someone who works for the pricewaterhousecoopers said that they have the support and the blessing of the Harper’s Conservative elites, too.