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Budget & Finance : Dollars & Sense with CFO Brad Grundy - Archive
Skip Navigation LinksCBE Home About Us Budget & Finance Dollars & Sense with CFO Brad Grundy - Archive

Budget & Finance

Dollars & Sense with CFO Brad Grundy - Archive

​2015-16

 

 Eliminate head office jobs first

 

June 13, 2016​​

CommentJust a suggestion I have been thinking about for a long time. Whenever we hear about cuts to the budget, immediately staff at the school level is laid off, teachers as well as support staff. We never hear of cuts being made to staff at the head office level. I know that there are many questionable positions at head office that could easily be eliminated without effecting the way things run. If the board was really concerned about how budget cuts effect education the cuts would be made at the top first instead of in the classrooms. Just my opinion which you did ask me for.

 

ResponseThank you for taking the time to submit your thoughts and comments.  We welcome and appreciate all feedback.

I would like to provide you with some additional information regarding head-office staff. 

Between Sept. 1, 2013 and Aug. 31, 2016 the CBE added about 398 full time equivalent positions.  Think of a full time equivalent as one person in a job for an entire year.  Of those 398, 386 or about 97 per cent were school based staff.  Of that 386 school-based staff, 68 per cent were teachers and 29 per cent were non-teaching staff (library assistance, school administrative assistants, education assistants, etc.) who were working in our schools.  The remaining few (12) were deployed to our Area offices, which work daily with our 227 schools.  Finally, we added 12 certificated teaching staff to Chinook Learning Services, where they work directly with our students.

Over that same period of time the number of staff in our headquarters remained even.  While some staff did move between our various service units, there were no net new positions in headquarters.  And keep in mind, during that same period the CBE added thousands of new students and hundreds of school based staff.  Generally speaking, with more students, more schools and more teaching staff comes more work for the system. From hiring and payroll, to communicating, to keeping the lights on in schools.  Many of our head office staff are integral to the operations of our school system.

For 2016-17 (which begins in September of 2016) we are looking at adding 273 staff to our schools and Areas.  121 of those are teachers and another 97 will be school-based support staff.  With a number of new schools coming into operation (15 new schools plus the Aboriginal Learning Centre) we also added about 50 custodial staff to maintain those new facilities.  For 2016-17 we are also going to add 16 non-school based staff.  That means over 94 per cent of the 289 staff (273 school and area staff plus 16 non-school based staff) we are adding are in our schools. 

Putting it all together, between Sept. 1, 2013 and Aug. 31, 2017 we will have added a total 687 staff.  Only 16 or 2.3% of all additions were not directly in our schools and Areas.  While we may have to agree to disagree on this point, we think that our hiring pattern shows a strong commitment to our values of students come first, learning is our central purpose, and public education serves the common good.

To your comment about cuts to school based staffing.  While I don’t have any specifics I did speak to our budget staff and they don’t think there has been any overall reductions in school based staffing in at least 30 years.  As long as our student enrolment continues to grow we will continue to add school based staff.  Students and their learning are what we are all about and our hiring will continue to reflect that fact.

Thank you again for your thoughts and I hope that this information is of interest and use to you.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 New schools, timing, and urban sprawl

 

April 20, 2016

Comment1. Do not open new schools in the middle of the year. I can imagine that the cost of just keeping the doors shut until the natural September school year start date would save enough money to help with our transportation issues.
2. Quit catering to the urban sprawl. We moved where there was a school. People keep moving further and further out and expect a school to be build for them. Meanwhile we close the inner city schools.
3. Quit having contractors that abuse the system and overcharge the CBE. An average person can get what the school has done for almost half the cost in most cases. it is such a joke if you can be a contractor for the CBE you can make way more money then other places.
4. Teachers are the most important factor in a students classroom, but computer technology is also important for the kids. My child ends up bringing his own laptop to class because their are not enough to go around.
5. I think the biggest thing is to quit wasting money if you don't have the funds to open a new school - don't do it. Opening 16 schools a year is not smart.

ResponseThank you for taking the time to provide us with input on our upcoming budget. We do very much appreciate the feedback.

In response to the points in your note, I would provide the following information as additional context.

Once a new school project has been announced and funded by Alberta Education, we begin a comprehensive process to plan and prepare for the opening of that new school. Part of our process involves working with the local school community on options and preferences related to when and how the new school is brought into operation. As an aside, we also begin the process of working with the schools from which the students will be coming as impacts on those “feeder” schools can also be quite significant. Communities are generally keen and eager to have their long awaited school opened as quickly as possible. As much as we can, we aim for natural breaks in the school year to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the impacts on families and students and to manage our costs.

With regard to urban sprawl, we work with our Calgary Catholic colleagues and the City of Calgary to identify school sites in planned communities. Until new schools are approved, however, we work diligently to accommodate our students within our existing facilities located across the city. One objective amongst many is to minimize, to the extent possible, travel for students. At the same time, we try to maintain an 80 per cent utilization rate in our schools to ensure we can offer the programming our families expect.

On the contracting front, as a public sector entity we are obligated to use open, transparent and fair procurement processes to acquire our goods and services. In most cases we get multiple bids which ensure to a large extent that we receive good value for money. Keep in mind that as a public sector entity with responsibility for over 117,000 students, we do have some stringent requirements to which our contractors must adhere. This can made direct comparisons between the work that is done in our schools and the work done elsewhere a challenge. Our larger contracts are vetted by third-party cost consultants to help us in achieving value for money. Finally, if anyone is aware of any fraud or inpropriety on behalf of contractors working for the CBE I would encourage them to contact our Chief Legal Counsel who administers our whistle blower program.

On point 4, we would agree that the most important factor affecting students and their learning outcomes is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Accordingly, we have extensive processes to ensure that we recruit, train, support and develop the best teachers possible. We believe the results of our students speak for themselves as we are equal to or exceed the outcomes of the province on most measures.

And lastly, while we appreciate the funding we receive for new schools, we agree that opening 16 new schools is a huge logistical, operational, and financial challenge. We are, however, subject to school funding and building decisions made by our provincial legislature. You may be interested to know that over the 25 years up to 2013, the CBE opened approximately 1.84 schools per year on average. Over the next 18 months we anticipate opening 24 new and replacement schools. For more information, we would direct you to the April 2016 Auditor General of Alberta report titled “Education and Infrastructure – Systems to Manage the School-Build Program” which speaks, in part, to this issue. That report can be found here https://www.oag.ab.ca/webfiles/reports/OAGApril2016Report.pdf

Thank you again for taking the time to provide input.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Back to basics

 

March 29, 2016

CommentWith the upcoming short fall in both the regular school budget and transportation; why don't we just go back to the 'basics.' It's great to offer all the wonderful options like language schools, gender or cultural specific schools etc. but all this diversity is expensive. Our kids need the basics. I grew up in a small town and we didn't have all these options but we focused solely the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. I graduated from Grade 12 and went on to complete my university degree with just the basics, and I am doing just fine.

If certain families want the diversity then they need to pay for that. In a publicly funded system - give us the basics in our neighborhood schools that our kids can walk to. The private sector can offer the diversity that individual families can choose to pay and transport their kids to.

ResponseThank you for your input.  We very much appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your thoughts.

In your note you made several references to “basics” and I wanted to provide some additional context that might be of interest to you and others. 

Alberta Education is responsible for determining the provincial curriculum.  The curriculum defines what is to be taught in all ministry funded schools and districts.  Because of that, the determination of what makes up a basic education rests solely with the Ministry of Education.  It is the role of the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) to deliver the provincially mandated curriculum.  The CBE is not empowered to modify or otherwise change the provincially mandated curriculum.  For alternative programs (the language/gender/cultural programs you note) the curriculum remains the same.  The alternative programs simply provide a different lens (language, gender, culture, etc.) through which the mandated curriculum is delivered.

Alberta Education is also supportive and encouraging of alternative programs as they align with its objectives of equity, access and choice.  Alternative programs speak to the choice objective. Given the wide diversity of students within the CBE, both the Ministry of Education and the CBE believe that alternative programs help support students maximizing their achievement.

I would also share that save for transportation, the cost of alternative programs is quite modest.  This is because the CBE would be required to provide an education to each of those students in our regular programming stream in the absence of an alternative program.  Both regular and alternative programming streams are resourced and staffed to similar levels.  As a result there is little to distinguish between regular and alternative programs from a cost perspective.  Having said that, some alternative program text books can cost more than regular program text books and that differential makes up the majority of any cost differential between regular and alternative programs.

The cost of alternative program transportation will undoubtedly be an issue discussed at the upcoming public engagement sessions on transportation.  I will defer any comments on that topic until the results of that engagement are in.  Find more information on our transportation engagement sessions and process here.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide input,

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Education dollars should go to education

 

March 18, 2016

CommentSTOP holding catered lunches at hotels when there is space for meetings within CBE properties. Education dollars should be going to education, not to school administration and staff meeting off property with expensive meals provided. We spend more on education per capita than anywhere else in Canada so its time someone starts looking at the expenses using taxpayer money.

Close schools that are under-utilized to save maintenance and operating costs where kids can be accommodated nearby.

Single change with greatest impact is to convince Alberta Government to deliver on Capital Plan. Standing room only for high school kids in core classes is unacceptable.

As mentioned, quit living life high on the hog. We all don't work in Oil and Gas and our companies spend appropriately but it seems the CBE wants to spend on comfort and joy over quality education.


ResponseThank you for taking the time to provide us with your thoughts and comments. I did want to provide a bit of additional information related to one of your points. Specifically, it was suggested that we close schools that are under-utilized to save maintenance and operating costs. Our challenge is that we are currently over-capacity at the system level. Our enrolment continues to grow, and we need space for students.
 
If you visit our budget engagement presentation you will note that our current system utilization rate (the red line) is at about 89 per cent across the entire system. With the new schools that are currently under construction we should see the utilization rate drop to around 83 per cent in the 2017-18 timeframe. Keep in mind that still means we have some schools well over that utilization rate and others below.  Given the enrolment growth that we are projecting based on Statistics Canada and City of Calgary data (the black line), we do not anticipate being in a position to close any schools anytime soon. In fact, our challenge is the other way. If we cannot get our three-year capital plan funded by the province our utilization rate will once again begin to climb well above the Alberta Education recommended target of 80 per cent. With increased utilization comes the need for more transportation, more program moves and changes, and more potential over-crowding.

You also address our corporate spending. We don’t always get it right and we take appropriate steps when we see such errors in judgement. We agree that education dollars should be going to education, not to catered meals. From time to time, we require people who are very busy to come together to discuss business matters over lunch. We make every effort to be prudent and efficient with the dollars entrusted to us. Our leaders are directed that:

  • The purchase of meals should be carefully considered and done only when critical meetings extend over the lunch hour.
  • Superintendents have been advised that only training and professional development critical to the maintenance of professional designations and practices, or critical to advancing the Three-Year Education Plan, shall be approved.

We believe that these directions align with our values: students come first, learning is our central purpose, and public educations serves the common good. We devote the vast majority of our budget to staffing and operating our schools, and providing the range of supports necessary to meet  the needs of all of our students, including those with complex learning needs.

Our capital plan is indeed important and our Trustees advocate tirelessly for adequate funding to support all of our students in getting the high quality public education that they deserve and our parents expect. 
 
Thank you again for taking the time to provide us with feedback. We very much appreciate hearing from you.
 
Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Hire teachers, not downtown staff

 

March 14, 2016​

CommentReduce class sizes (by hiring more teachers) especially where there is complexity like high ELL or high low income. If we do not attend to our learners, our workforce will suffer. In the short term it will look bad on our provincial results.

There always seems to be money for "downtown or area offices" to hire more people because "we are so busy" I have no doubt that they are busy. The reality is that we are all busy implementing all of the great ideas that people have come up with but which there is not enough time in the day to implement. However, unlike these service units, schools cannot just "hire more people." The people with the contingency will naturally take care of their own situation because that is what they know.

All areas are not the same yet we staff them the same. We have the same number of strategists in each area yet the proportion of work is not the same. Why is this? Is it because our marginalized families are easier to ignore that our hover or wealthier parents? This is not okay. Budgets should reflect these differences. We just requested support from our area office regarding a student with severe behavioural issues and have been told that the strategist's first available time is April 6! How is this helpful?

Area office spending needs to be documented and explained, and shared with principals as a minimum.

There needs to be funding that reflects the reality that in some schools everyone pays their fees, everyone can pay for multiple field trips, everyone can contribute to fund raisers, parents can pay for psycho ed or social emotional assessments (which in turn provides more funding to a school to purchase teachers or EAs to support the learner) versus that fact that in other schools partial payment or no payment of fees is the case, few can pay for field trips, fundraising is minimal and no parent can pay for an assessment. Think about the difference in these two cases and what budgets look like as a result. This is not equity. RAM needs to reflect this better as the equity funding does not come close to levelling things out.

ResponseThank you for taking the time to provide us with input on our 2016-17 budget.  In part of your comments it was suggested that we bias our hiring towards downtown or area offices, and I thought a little additional information might be informative.

Between 2013-14 and 2015-16 the CBE added about 398 full time equivalent (FTE) positions.  Of that number, 386, or about 97 per cent, were school-based staff.  Of this, 68 per cent of the increase was in school-based teaching staff and the remaining 29 per cent were non-teachers working in schools.

The remaining 12 additional positions were certificated FTE teachers who were added in Chinook Learning to support those students and their learning. 

There were some very small ups and downs in our other service units but the net change in those groups between 2013-14 and 2015-16 was zero. Mostly the realignment of existing staff.

That means that 97 per cent of the increased staffing was school-based teachers and support staff. 

We believe that this is consistent with our values of students come first, learning is our central purpose, and public education serves the common good.

I thought people might be interested in this information.  Thanks, as always, for taking the time to provide input.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Upcoming teacher negotioations

 

​March 11, 2016

CommentI would strongly suggest that in the upcoming negotiations that the CBE come back in line with the number of PD days granted to teachers. 10 is ridiculous and outrageous when compared to Edmonton Public's 3. If the level of innovation in all the years of teacher PD has left us with the widespread use of the worksheet, I think that PD is a waste of effort.

Further that most "PD" occurs in conjunction with long weekends and breaks, how does the public not see these days as just extended holiday? Friday afternoon, early dismissal is another waste of PD... having been a teacher, and being a parent I see well enough that this is an excuse for most teachers to leave early Friday... so every weekend is an extended weekend. Unbelievable.

As the employer, for heaven's sake get your monies worth. If you have to have 1/2 day PD do it on Wednesday NOT Friday. Cut the PD days from 10 to 3 and increase the number of contact days by an additional 7 per student... THAT puts the student first.

I would add that the cost to families for lost work and child care to coddle teacher who's PD is at best questionable and at worst, a holiday - is too much in the best of times and with the current economy is unbearable.

If CBE continues 10 PD days per teacher, you clearly do not have a resource shortage.


ResponseThank you for taking the time to provide us with your feedback.  The more input we have the better we are able to reflect the expectations of parents and students.

You mentioned upcoming negotiations related to the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA). I’d like to provide you with some additional information. The ATA collective agreement is up in August 2016. The Provincial Government is developing a new collective bargaining process which will move much of the bargaining to a centralized, government controlled process. Bill 8, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act that provides some of the details of this new approach.  We do not yet know what impact these changes will have on our ability to bargain items like teacher professional development at the local level. Stay tuned for more information.

Thank you again for your input,

Brad (Chief Financial Officer)


 

 Penalized by transportation fees

 

March 7, 2016

CommentIn my opinion getting education in nearby residence is the basic human rights which CBE is not fulfilling. That’s why the Kindergarten students have to walk almost 2 kilometer for getting school bus stop in the extreme cold weather and then they have to spend another 30 minutes on the bus which is not justifiable and fair to them. Moreover parents have to be penalized in paying transportation fee.

There is a elementary and junior high school within 5 minutes of my residence. We have been living this address for 3 years. I have applied in this school from the beginning. My elementary and junior high school kids are not able to get admission over there and they are compelled in riding CBE bus. Which is not my interest and our kids do not like to ride school bus. They hate it. The funny things is that CBE is made compelled to them for riding the school bus and on the top of that they penalized to the parents for paying transportation fees which is very frustrating and illogical matters.

You CBE is not fulfilling the basic needs and on the top of that you have been penalized for paying transportation fees. My concerns is that if you are not able to give admission within nearby residence why are you penalized to parents in paying transportation fee which is not their interest for sending kids in riding bus. We are living in the most difficult situation of the life. If we have $600 which we made compelled to pay for CBE transportation fee, we would able to buy nutritious foods and able to provide extra activities to our kids which they deserve it. What would be the result if we are not able to provide nutritious foods and not able to provide extra activities to our kids in the future? What types of citizens are we raising. What would be the future expectations from the kids who are not able to fulfill their basic needs. 
 

ResponseThank you very much for your submission. No one at the CBE wants to charge fees for public education. Fees have been, however, an unfortunate reality in public education in Alberta.

With regard to transportation specifically, I would direct you and anyone else with questions, concerns and ideas related to transportation to participate in our upcoming transportation engagement. Once again, thank you for your input.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE) 


 

 The Northern Hills communities need a public high school

 
March 6, 2016 

Comment
The Northern Hills communities need a public high school.

 


Response
Thank you for your feedback. We have received many comments stating this, and we recognize the need for high schools in Calgary’s north. However, we don’t decide when new schools are built. The provincial government determines where, when and how new schools are built. Each year, school boards submit a Three-Year School Capital Plan to Alberta Education. The plan identifies priorities for new school construction and major modernizations. When submitting our plan, we take several factors into account such as census statistics, projected community growth, travel time and more. We also include modernization requests to upgrade existing learning spaces.

Accordingly, the CBE will open Nelson Mandela High School in northeast Calgary in fall 2016. In addition, a new high school for north Calgary is also identified as the CBE’s highest high school priority (ranked 8th out of 19 new school construction priorities) in our Three-Year School Capital Plan 2017-2020. Further information regarding how the CBE prioritizes new school construction requests to the Province can be found in section 3.0 of the plan: New School Construction Capital Plan Criteria.

We encourage parents and interested stakeholders to let their local MLAs know of their concerns related to adequately resourcing the CBE with new and modernized schools.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Spend less on technology, more on special education

 
 March 6, 2016
 

CommentSpecial education funding from Alberta Education should be allocated to the student for whom it is designated, rather than going into the school's general budget. Although my child with autism is PUF funded in her kindergarten year, she receives very few services. It confuses me as to how in preschool, with the same amount of funding, she was able to receive Speech or Occupational therapy daily, but now she has received only a handful of Speech services that are not individualized for her needs. It seems that unless your child acts out, she is deemed to not require supports/services and those who internalize their struggles seem to be overlooked.

I would also suggest spending less money on technology and more on direct teacher-student interaction and hands-on tactile learning experiences for the younger students. Although it is important to keep up with technology, I think that having an educational assistant in a class is more beneficial in kindergarten than having new flat panel TVs, iPads, Apple TV, etc. With resources being so scarce and too much "screen time" for young children, it seems odd that money is being spent on more screens.

Response
Thank you so much for your budget comments.  For your information I would like to provide a little bit of additional information.  You commented that the “Special Education funding from Alberta Education should be allocated to the student for whom it is designated.”  You may be interested to know that Alberta Education does not provide funding specific to a particular student.  Rather, the provincial funding framework allocates dollars to a school jurisdiction such as the CBE for what they call inclusive education.  The manual can be found here. The process is a little different for Early Childhood Services Program Unit Funding but the result is basically the same. The ECS-PUF funding has to serve the needs of all qualifying students and dollars do not attach to one specific child.
 
If you turn to page 28 of the manual you will see how the inclusive education funding is allocated.  There is no identification of a specific student. Thus, it is up to each school jurisdiction to allocate those resources to meet the educational needs of all students. The ECS-PUF formulae begins on page 21.

Within the CBE, funds are allocated via our Resource Allocation Method (RAM) to schools. School principals are then responsible, with input from the staff, students and the public, for the allocation of those dollars to meet the needs of all the students in their care. Note, the RAM funds schools based on enrolment and student population complexity. As with the provincial funding framework, the RAM does not provide funding for a particular student. In addition to school-based funding and resources, the CBE funds resources at both the Area office and central levels that are available to support the unique learning requirements of students with special needs. Having resources at the Area and central level allow for a better matching of resources to needs.

Finally, I would note that the dollars spent across the CBE in support of students with special needs far exceeds the amount of funding that comes from the inclusive education funding. This information is included in the CBE’s 2014-15 financial results submission to Alberta Education and is available on our website . This information is also available directly from the Alberta Education website.

Once again thank you for providing your thoughts and I hope that the additional information is of some use.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 

 Class structure, technology & school trips

 

Feb. 26, 2016

CommentI would like to see classes restructured by learning ability. We are now seeing children sitting in the classes doing nothing because the teacher spends most of their time on the slower learning children. There can be larger classes of faster learning kids and smaller classes of slower learning ones. We do not need smaller classroom sizes. I would also like to see no computers (unless its a computer class) and no cell phones in any class. Children should learn how to do the basics without mechanical help. I would also like to see no 'graduation' ceremonies for each and every grade. What is the point? Everyone passes so there is no big accomplishment and its a waste of time and money. Is this what we pay teachers for? Less time off for the teachers, seems like every Friday before a stat Monday is off, lots of 'professional days' etc. They can have these during the summer vacations breaks where they are already being paid for not working. Perhaps we should pay teachers by the hour since they work far less per day and per month than the average person yet make full time wages. Kids are spending far less time in the classrooms and why every Friday afternoon off?

Children are graduating without the proper abilities. This is a public system and should be available to everyone and not just a few. We are pandering to parents perceptions of some children 'feeling bad'. The system is to teach our children, to educate them and prepare them for the future. It has now become a glorified daycare that taxpayers are paying for. Public systems are just that, public. Why do people have to pay fee's? For what?

I would also like to see an end to these school sponsored trips out of the city, province and even the country. It is not the schools job to provide vacations to the some of the children (if your parents can't afford it, you can't go). The teachers are still paid and extra teachers are needed to replace them while away to teach the children that cannot go. Field trips are fine, during the day. Not these that we see now. Once again, its a public system and not only for some children. School sponsored? How does that work? 
 
Brad Grundy's ResponseI appreciate your perspective and would like to provide some information regarding a few of your suggestions.

You indicated a desire for ability grouping of students. While this may seem efficient, research continues to reinforce that eliminating grade repetition and avoiding early tracking contributes to success and high school completion (Equity and Quality in Education, OECD 2012). Some research would support your suggestions that we do not need smaller class sizes, however what cannot be underestimated is the impact of the teacher. Quality teaching is influenced from professional learning of staff regardless of when the time is provided. There are contractual obligations that determine the assignable time of a teacher as well as expectations for professional learning. You are correct that, at times, this might occur on a half day in the week but be assured, the number of hours students spend in school is actually determined by Alberta Education. Students in Grades 1 – 9 receive a minimum of 950 hours of instruction and high school students receive a minimum of 1000 hours of instruction annually.
 
You might be unaware that in the province of Alberta there is a focus on High School Redesign. The goal is to actively engage students in learning at school and expand positive partnerships with industry. This ensures there are multiple ways for students to experience success in high school that will lead them to success in post-secondary or the world of work.
 
You might also be surprised to know that off campus learning or overnight fieldtrips are most often paid for by participating students. This could be direct payment by the parents/guardians of students or through fundraising. At times, fees pay for these experiences beyond the classroom as well. The Calgary Board of Education has a rigourous process for reviewing all educational travel. Teachers make a direct link to the outcomes in the program of studies and how students will be evaluated as the result of the trip. Often these trips occur over Spring Break or include weekends. Teachers give of their own time to plan the learning opportunities, support fundraising and supervise the trips.
 
Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)
 

 Reducing centrally hosted teachers & resources for IPPs

 

Feb. 26, 2016 

Comment
I understand that wages are a fixed cost. But where staff resources are allocated should be defined by the budget, and it should be open to feedback by citizens. As an example, the number of certificated staff who work at the headquarters could be reduced and the number of teachers in schools could be increased by sending those people back to the classroom. Another example is that by reducing learning leaders and sending these people back into the classroom, the ratio of classroom teachers to classroom students would be improved. Neither of these ideas would cost more (or less) money, but they would have a big impact on improving the working conditions of teachers and the learning conditions of students.

My other suggestion, as a parent of a child who is coded as special needs, I believe that accountability is very important. For example, the school my son attends receives additional money based on his special need. However, the school didn't allocate any additional resources to my son or his class (and the teachers didn't even know he had an IPP, but that's not budget-related). Having each school publish their budget would be very helpful in ensuring that money is spent in accordance with the intended allocation.

Brad Grundy's ResponseThank you for your note.  I thought a bit of additional information might be of use to you and others related to your comments.

There are indeed some certificated (teachers) staff who are not directly in the classroom.  I think it is important to note that those centrally hosted teachers are a resource to the whole system and are sent to specific schools when those schools are facing unique and different situations.  For example, a school might have a new student with unique learning challenges which are beyond the knowledge of the school-based staff.  By having expertise available centrally we can send that expertise where and when required to support our students and their learning.  We believe this model is both cost effective and supports student outcomes.

With regard to Learning Leaders, those are individuals, in schools who take on additional responsibilities in addition to their teaching responsibilities.  We know that the quality of teaching that takes place in the classroom is one of the biggest contributors to student outcomes within the school system. Our learning leaders work with their teacher colleagues to improve and grow teaching practice. This too we feel is good for our students.

With regard to students with unique learning challenges, our Resource Allocation Method is how we allocate our scarce resources to our schools. It was not the intention within the RAM that dollars would be specifically attached to one child. Said another way, we use the coding attached to students as an indicator of the complexity in the school community. A school community with a more complex student population tends to attract more dollars than a school with a less complex school community. Through this approach we attempt to ensure that the RAM allocation will meet the learning needs of the entire school community. If some students require additional supports the principal can provide those supports through their RAM allocation. Other students may require few supports. With scarce resources it is always a balancing act between needs and funding. We believe that each principal is best positioned to make those decisions related to how the resources provided to them are best deployed in support of students and their learning. To reiterate, no dollars in the RAM are specific to a particular student.

You may also be interested in knowing that the funding we receive from the province is not attached to specific students. Rather, the provincial allocation is designed to meet the needs of all students within the system.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide input and comment. I very much appreciate it.
 
Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)
 

 Bureaucracy, school lotteries & busing

 
Feb. 25, 2016 

CommentTop priorities??? If ANY business were run the way the CBE runs, it would go bankrupt.
Get rid of administration personnel. 0 based budgeting. But that wont happen since it's tax dollars.
Whats your biggest expense? Come on, you know. Salaries!
If CBE employees are not IN the schools, teaching sweeping etc, they are BLOAT.

Seriously... The people (like me) are putting their hard earned money where their mouth is, and voting with their feet. Ever hear of charter schools?? They LISTEN. Why does the CBE have schools that need to run on a lottery system? Hmm, Perhaps the CBE and their BLOATED bureaucracy, are incapable of teaching the "basics" the way parents want their children taught. But instead of changing, they figure out, even more ingenuous ways to squander money. Like busing kids all over the city.

Be Practical! If a school is below capacity, CLOSE IT! Move those resources to newer communities that need one. Stop busing kids to support your broken model.

END school lotteries! If it's been over subscribed, put more resources and budget towards it! If it's at "capacity" get it MORE. Folks it's really that simple.

CBE budget = 1.3Bil. / number of students 115,000 = $11,304 per child / year.
If that money was given to parents, who in turn gave it to the school of THEIR choice, how quickly would the "system" respond? It would change overnight.

Another fun fact, 115,000 students / 13,000 CBE employees = 8.8, ok make it 9. Do we have class sizes of 9??? Nope. Heck, do we have a class size of 18? (Half the staff could be non student facing at that point). Nope. It's obvious where the BLOAT is.

Will it change? Nope. The "system" is only interested in keeping the system going.

Good luck with your propaganda campaign.

Thank you for your thoughts and comments.  For your information and perhaps in the interest of others I would like to add some additional information to your thoughts.

A reality of public education is that schools are built in communities and the size and composition of communities change over time.  When we have a lottery system in place at a school it means that we have significantly more students seeking to attend the school than the school has capacity.  To manage that unfortunate reality we have implemented some rules related to who can get into the school as well as the lottery mechanism.  Everyone in the CBE acknowledges that a lottery is not ideal but we do not control where and when new schools are built.  That responsibility resides with the provincial government.  Our responsibility is to use the facilities available to us to the maximum extent possible.

You mention busing.  Busing is in large part due to the number of schools that we have that are full to the brim and bursting at the seams.  Rather than looking to close schools, we are challenged with efficiently using the facilities that we have available to address the fact that many of our community schools are well above the provincially mandated utilization maximum of 80 per cent.  Some are well above.  That means we have to bus students to where the spaces are.  This is not our preferred model but it is a reality given provincial funding decisions related to new schools and modernizations of existing schools.  If new school construction does not keep pace with our enrolment growth, our busing challenges will only grow.

You mention getting more resources.  Once again, funding for public education is the responsibility of the provincial government.  Like you, the CBE is committed to an adequately funded public education system and we advocate regularly with the province related to education funding.  We would love to have your support in assisting us in our advocacy efforts and would very much encourage you to contact your local MLA to talk about the importance of public education in the future of the province.

A point of clarification on your numbers.  Our budget is $1.3 billion as noted.  I would clarify however that the number of Full Time Equivalent positions is about 9,650.  Said another way, the 13,000 staff share only 9,650 staff positions.  And we will have more than 117,000 students in 2016-17.  That is about 12.12 students per FTE.  I would also note that the vast majority of our staff are school based.  In addition to teachers a schools needs library support, a caretaker, a principal, an administrative assistant, etc.  We watch those numbers closely to ensure we maximize the positions available to support students in the classroom.  Also, we need to do the payroll, pay the bills, order supplies, maintain the facilities, etc.  I think we can all agree those are not tasks that we should burden our teachers with.

While I take your point about staffing I would want to point out that the CBE has Board and System Administration costs of less than three per cent.  This is among the lowest across the entire province, including charter schools and private schools.

With regard to charter schools and private schools specifically, I would further note than unlike those institutions the CBE is legally obligated to take every student.  We do not pick and choose.  We do not turn students away who do not meet an eligibility criteria.  Everyone who registers with the CBE gets a top notch education and our student achievement results back that up.

I imagine that we will agree to disagree on a number of points.  Nevertheless, I trust that this additional information is of interest and use.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Brad (Chief Financial Officer, CBE)

 
 

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