Dec. 10, 2019
I am writing to provide an update on the steps the CBE is taking this school year to address our $32 million budget shortfall. While the last few weeks have been challenging, I want to assure you that our commitment to high academic standards and success for all has not wavered. I want to thank our teachers, support staff, families and communities for everything they do to ensure the success of every student.
Since receiving the budget from the province on October 24, we have been working with our principals and other leaders to find ways to address our budget shortfall.
I have received many emails, calls and comments from parents, students and staff that emphasize the tremendous impact made by the people who make up our school system. I want you to know we remain committed to your child and their education, every single day, no exceptions.
We are grateful that the provincial government has provided us with the flexibility to use Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) dollars to prioritize our students, classrooms and families. We are confident that we can reduce our spending on buildings and maintenance this year without compromising the safety of our students and staff.
This means the 317 teachers on temporary contracts who received notices in November will keep their jobs in their current school. This is welcome news for our students, staff and families.
We are also using a portion of the IMR funding to offset an $8 million reduction in provincial transportation funding. This will help minimize the financial impact on families of the 23,000 students who travel on yellow school buses.
At today’s public board meeting, CBE administration presented an updated Budget Assumptions Report (Page 5-1) to our Board of Trustees. This report includes details about how we will balance our 2019-20 budget with the use of $15 million in IMR funds.
To close the remaining funding gap this year, other cost-saving strategies must be implemented including:
Mid-Year Changes to Transportation Fees and Calgary Transit Rebate
For the 2019-20 school year, all general yellow school bus riders will be charged $365. This includes the 6,000 students who were previously eligible for fee-free transportation. The Calgary Transit rebate is also eliminated. These changes are retroactive to the start of the school year. Overall service levels will be maintained.
Transportation details will be sent to all families in a separate email later today.
Further Cuts to Administration
We will continue to reduce non-school based staffing and spending to protect classrooms. Administrative budgets will absorb an additional $4 million in reductions for a total of $7 million since spring 2019. This includes an additional reduction of approximately 33 positions. Over the course of this school year, we are also making adjustments centrally to move teacher and other staff supports into schools.
A freeze on all non-essential spending remains in effect. It is important that leaders maintain school programming and operations. Purchases that ensure the delivery of the curriculum are considered essential as well as spending to ensure safety, security and legal compliance.
Reductions to School-Based Budgets
School budgets have been reduced overall. These impacts will vary by school. Principals are being prudent and thoughtful in managing their budgets in the best interests of their students and school communities.
Using Reserves and Reducing Capital Spending
We will be using our reserve dollars and reducing capital spending to help cover the funding gap. The dollars remaining in these budgets will be used to support necessary spending on projects that support essential services of our schools and system. The CBE will continue to provide safe, healthy, and supportive learning and working environments for all students and staff.
Thank you for your ongoing support, patience and understanding. Should you have any specific questions about your child’s school please contact the principal.
Chief Superintendent of Schools
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Note | On January 7, 2020 the Board of Trustees will discuss and approve the revised 2019-20 budget before it is submitted to Alberta Education.