Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Lesson in Numbers

I had a conversation with Carol Bazinet on Wednesday morning concerning the public school budget for Calgary. As in my chat with Jenny Regal blogged here, we started out by both acknowledging the complexity, confusion, and mis-information surrounding this issue. Trying to boil it down in a few sentences is impossible if a complete understanding is desired. The media's rhetoric, sensationalism, and outright misinformation hasn't helped matters and getting the facts and figures right will definitely help us, as parents, decide the best course of action. Now that the budget has been unanimously accepted, I thought some basic facts might help in the understanding of the impact to public schools and what it might mean to us as parents...

Some interesting numbers:

17% - the portion of Alberta's students served by the CBE
5,672 - the number of FTE (Full Time Equivalent) Teachers
9377 – the number of FTE Staff; 83% of these are dedicated to schools
3% - the portion of FTE cuts
2% - the increase in individual school budgets handed down by the CBE
0% - the increase in the board's budget handed down by the province
6% - the amount of increase that the CBE would have needed in order to maintain current levels
5% - the increase in cost of a teacher for 2010/2011
$40,000,000 - estimated 2011 deficit required to maintain status quo

Enough numbers for now but I could go on. The important bits here are that the CBE has not been given an increase in their budget, they have escalating costs, they can't cover them all. The only way to carry on is to run a deficit, lay off people, not hire people, reduce programming, cut back on services, etc - the CBE has opted to do a little of all of the above to come out with a compromise that minimizes the impact in the classroom. And as I've said before, the impact in the classroom is the only thing that we, as parents, care about. We don't want to see classes of 50 kids in them - period.

I asked Carol about the recent sound bite from the education minister suggesting that the boards across the province need to budget responsibly, that its not the province's fault if boards have been remiss in their duties so won't be bailing them out...
"I would say the fact that schools received an increase in their budgets for the 2010-2011 school year when we as a board did not receive any grant rate increases points to our administraion's commitment to protect the classroom as much as possible." - Carol Bazinet.
When asked directly where we should send our complaints about changes to the CBE's budget - Ms. Bazinet gave the same advice as Ms. Regal, talk to the province. Tell your MLA what you see as a priority, tell Dave Hancock that we won't accept less in our schools, tell the Premiere that he needs to send more money to the boards.

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