Board of Trustee Response Minister's Review

May. 21, 2020

In November 2019, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced an independent, external review of the finances and governance of the CBE. We received the report yesterday afternoon.

We are pleased that the review confirmed that there are no financial irregularities or improprieties. The report highlighted that our spending is fully aligned with that of other metro school jurisdictions and that we have strong financial processes and controls. The review also found that we have very efficient operations, especially in the area of operations and maintenance.

The Ministerial Order outlines areas for improvement related to governance processes and financial oversight. We are committed to working with Alberta Education on the plan to comply with the Ministerial Order.

A number of the directives in the Ministerial Order have already been addressed as part of CBE's 2020-21 budget such as:      

  • deploying 70 teachers back into schools;
  • making changes to transportation to align with funding and mandated service levels;
  • moving the Kingsland welcome centre for new Canadians into the Education Centre and exploring other options to maximize the lease space;
  • reducing and standardizing the learning leader teaching positions across the system. These learning leaders are teachers with the majority of their time spent in classrooms;
  • consolidating our outreach program from four to three sites to further align with government funding for outreach services; and
  • reducing English Language Learning supports from seven to five years to align with government funding.

Other work underway by the Board of Trustees including:

  • Ongoing policy review: The Board of Trustees continuously reviews its governance policies and previously identified those policies referenced in the Ministerial Order.
  • Governance support: To be effective governors of a $1.2 billion organization, the Board already accesses the advice and support of external experts. We look forward to expanding our complement of governance coaches.

The citizens of Calgary expect that we will be good stewards of public dollars and we will continue to spend those dollars to support student learning. We acknowledge there is always room to improve.

As a public school board, the CBE welcomes all students regardless of their background, ability or financial status. Our students continually demonstrate strong academic results and outperform the province on diploma exams and provincial achievement tests. Strong academic results is the best evidence of our effectiveness and value for dollars. As democratically elected trustees, we are committed to governing with integrity and making decisions in the best interests of the more than 126,000 students we serve.

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Frequently Asked Questions 

Has the CBE considered other options with regards to the Education Centre lease including subletting the building? 

The Education Centre lease was signed by a previous Administration and Board of Trustees at a time when rents were rising exponentially, and we were not permitted to buy or build our own space. The lease arrangement was approved by the provincial government at the time.  

While the option to purchase the building has been recently explored by the CBE, various other options have been considered over the years. The CBE has engaged a range of experts in developing options around the Education Centre lease. We are happy to continue that work. The CBE has sublet some floors in the past, however, due to market conditions, we are not currently able to find new tenants. 

Budget 2020-21 includes a consolidation of the Kingsland Welcome Centre into the Education Centre to better utilize resources. 

What did the report say about salary costs at the CBE? 

Interestingly, the report did not make any explicit comments on salary costs at the CBE. The majority of our staff are unionized. Less than 1.5 per cent of all CBE employees are not covered by a collective agreement. In 2016 an independent salary review was commissioned by the CBE for these exempt employees and salary bands were reduced. We recognized that market conditions have changed in Calgary since 2016. In accordance with the Ministerial Order the Board of Trustees will use an independent third party to perform an updated salary survey to determine if CBE exempt employee salaries are in line with other school boards, public and private entities. 

Of course, the largest collective agreement relates to the Alberta Teachers' Association which is currently negotiated by the Province of Alberta. For the others, the CBE routinely tests its compensation levels against market conditions for the relevant roles.   

As well, the CBE is fully compliant with Government regulations related to the compensation and benefits for the Chief Superintendent. Compensation levels for the remaining senior officials flows from that regulation. Superintendent salaries and benefits have been frozen for more than five years.

Similarly, remuneration for the Board of Trustees is at the same levels as it was in 2009. 

The CBE also has a comprehensive compensation disclosure list on our main website to demonstrate our openness and transparency. The CBE is one of a very few school jurisdictions in Alberta who make this information readily available. 

It is being reported that 22 per cent of employees with teaching certificates are not in the classroom. Is this correct? 

Approximately 90 per cent of employees with teaching certificates are classroom teachers. Another eight per cent are principals or assistant principals. In some smaller schools principals and assistant principals carry a teaching load. The remaining two per cent fill centralized staff fill centralized teaching support roles. By centralizing key functions, the CBE can better resource and support our 250 schools. Finally, in budget 2020-21 the CBE is deploying approximately 70 of those centralized teaching positions back to schools. 

The majority of the 22 per cent of employees referred to in the report are classroom teachers who receive a small additional allowance to compensate them for additional responsibilities in schools.