Get Back to the Issues, Please

At a time when trustees and the public should be focusing on the 2012-13 Calgary Board of Education billion dollar budget, we are instead being distracted by an initiative brought forward by Chair Pat Cochrane to discipline Trustee Sheila Taylor over a five-month old tweet of a news headline. You can read about the details in the Calgary Herald. ARTICS is concerned that public time and resources are being spent on this attempt to censure an outspoken trustee who voted against the 2011-12 budget due to lack of detail.

Again, the 2012-13 budget is severely lacking in detail with $1.2 billion dollars of expenses being broken down into only five line items. It is unclear as to how the trustees can fulfil their fiduciary responsibility in providing effective financial oversight with so little information. In addition to the complete lack of detail on CBE expenses, ARTICS is also concerned about the following:

  • Why does page 19 show a 2011-12 forecast deficit of $7.6 million when on page 18 it is $0.723 million? (The budget variance report attached to the Chief Superintendent’s update also shows a forecast deficit of $0.723 million)
  • Last year, the trustees approved a $19.2 million deficit for 2011-12, which is now forecast to be only $0.723 million. While this is great news, why are we now looking at a 2012-13 budget with a $16.1 million deficit?
  • All 2011-12 numbers presented in the budget are supposed to be from the Fall Updated Budget (pg. 1). These numbers are used throughout the document to make year-over-year comparisons from 2011-12 to 2012-13. However, these numbers do not actually match what is in the Fall Updated Budget. The Fall Updated Budget had total revenues of $1,130.5 million and expenses of $1,149.6 million. However, in the 2012-13 budget document presented on Tuesday, it shows that the 2011-12 total revenues were $1,122.5 million and expenses were $1,140.3 million. While this is not a huge difference in the context of a billion dollar budget, it is significant enough that one questions exactly where the CBE came up with their 2011-12 numbers and how accurate the year-over-year comparisons are.
  • Why is there a sudden $2 million jump in transportation expenses to $39 million when for the past two years, transportation has been at $37 million (pg. 6)?
  • Why is the CBE telling parents that transportation expenses are $40 million when the budget shows $39 million? A reduction of $1 million in the presented $6.9 million shortfall being charged in fees is quite significant. Why is the CBE overcharging parents by 15%?

Get back to the real issues, please.

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