Superintendent, Chris Kelly, led Trustees and stakeholder representatives through the preliminary budget proposals. (Download overview).
The proposal forecasts a $5.83 million shortfall (based on an expected enrollment decline of 990 students) with the following reductions (with thanks to Patti for the summary and revisions April 12):
- 3 Vice principals-
- 1 systems analyst
- 29 Special ed support workers (the ones saved after parent outcry in December)
- 7 supervision aides
- 132.6 teachers. 40 due to budget cutbacks; 55 due to enrollment declines, and; 37.6 due to “one-time funding” for 06/07
- $200,000 cut from Learning & Development initiative-
- closure of 20 portables
Teacher and parent reps asked a series of questions to which the majority Trustees deferred answers to senior management staff to answer. As an observer and as a participant as the DPAC rep to standing committee III I was personally frustrated that the majority trustees simply sat there and had nothing to say. When they were asked to respond the chair, Clarance Hansen, said that it was inappropriate to be asked to respond; Trustee Lee exclaimed upon the devastation caused the NDP in the 1990s, and Trustee Gibson said that she was there to listen and that even though she had questions there was a framework and she would listen. One silent NPA trustee spoke with me afterwards expressing their disappointment with the way education is being funded.
As a parent representative and as a voting member of society I expect more from my trustees. Even if all they had to say was ‘this is a tough decision and we have little if any room to maneuver’ I would have felt that they demonstrated more respect for those of us who volunteer our time to participate in this process.
As to what they could do -how about a real cost budget? What level of resources are needed to fund the type of education system that everyone claims we have? During the meeting staffing cuts were justified in terms of ‘formulas’ three and ten years old. A graph was produced to ‘demonstrate’ that Vancouver’s staffing level relative to enrollment has climbed significantly during the last five years (see post: math lesson) and therefore reductions in staffing levels are not a problem. I would take issue with that claim. Perhaps the original formulas were inadequate best fits to a poor condition? Perhaps higher staffing is the result of a policy designed to support and improve appropriate learning? Perhaps the demographics of our student population requires additional staffing? But, more importantly, shouldn’t elected officials and educational administrators be making decisions based upon educational principles that they support and agree with and, shouldn’t we be able to hear them talk about why they are proposing this approach?