Pear­son board an­nounces $1 mil­lion deficit

St. Pats ex­pan­sion going ahead des­pite grim num­bers

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

The Les­ter B. Pear­son School Board an­noun­ced last week that it will start the new aca­de­mic year with a $1 mil­lion deficit thanks to more than $4 mil­lion in cuts from Que­bec’s Mi­nis­try of Edu­ca­tion, Lei­sure and Sports (MELS.)

The board’s Coun­cil of Com­mis­sio­ners adop­ted the 2014-2015 bud­get at a mee­ting held at its Dor­val head of­fice on Aug. 25. The English school board will off­set the deficit by using $1,421,035 of an ac­cu­mu­la­ted sur­plus, while the re­mai­ning $1,002,725 deficit will be re­vie­wed du­ring the up­co­ming year, ac­cor­ding to a re­lease is­sued by the board.

Saying it has been un­fair­ly pain­ted with the same broad brush, the re­lease poin­ted to the board’s ad­mi­nis­tra­tive cost per student and ove­rall cost per student, both of which it says are the lo­west on the is­land of Mon­treal. The LBPSB ad­di­tio­nal­ly says it has the hi­ghest gra­dua­tion rate of the is­land school boards.

‘Ho­we­ver, these key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors, pre­pa­red by the MELS, are not fac­to­red in­to the bud­get rules. The sim­plis­tic across-the-board cuts will in fact be pe­na­li­zing our board grea­ter than some of those who do not meet the needs of stu­dents as well as the LBPSB,’ the sta­te­ment read in part.

Ne­wrules

The board an­noun­ced in June that it would not be able to ap­prove its 20142015 bud­get as ex­pec­ted at the June 23 Coun­cil of Com­mis­sio­ners mee­ting, which was contra­ry to a pu­blic no­tice it had is­sued, be­cause the English board had not re­ceive the mi­nis­try’s fi­nal bud­get pa­ra­me­ters.

Told they should ex­pect “other cuts,” LBPSB Chair­man Suanne Stein Day said in June that it was “im­pos­sible” to ef­fec­ti­ve­ly deal with the in­for­ma­tion at hand or stra­te­gize ways to deal with cuts that “far ex­ceed our ex­pec­ta­tions.”

When the fi­nal bud­get rules were re­cei­ved on Ju­ly 25 the board lear­ned that MELS had cut fun­ding to all Que­bec school boards. The Pear­son board was hit with $4,068,000 in new cuts in­clu­ding grants to stu­dents with spe­cial needs and fun­ding student and school suc­cess.

By the num­bers

A to­tal of $1.8 mil­lion in go­vern­ment cuts tar­get what the board calls “edu­ca­tio­nal ac­ti­vi­ties,” while a fur­ther quar­ter mil­lion dollar re­duc­tion is ai­med at pro­vi­ding re­sources to stu­dents with spe­cial needs. To­tal cuts to the 2014-2015 bud­get, in­clu­ding cu­mu­la­tive, re­cur­ring prior year re­duc­tions, are $11 mil­lion. Schools un­der the board’s um­brel­la are al­so going to be sub­ject to cuts in ener­gy even though the board says Hy­dro Que­bec has an­noun­ced a 4.27-percent rate hike for 2014-2015. And an ini­tia­tive that is near and dear to the board’s heart was al­so not spa­red the axe. Re­spon­ding to the MEL’s 37-percent cut to a Li­bra­ry Book Grant, the board is­sued the fol­lo­wing reac­tion: ‘Li­bra­ries are not just about books, but about sha­ring ideas, fin­ding in­for­ma­tion and ins­pi­ring ima­gi­na­tions. As lear­ning evolves in a di­gi­tal world, we are loo­king at ha­ving our li­bra­ries evolve in a di­gi­tal world.’ The board says it will conti­nue piloting its School Li­bra­ry of the Fu­ture ini­tia­tive, as well as edu­ca­tio­nal pro­grams which in­clude of­fe­ring Wi-Fi avai­la­bi­li­ty in eve­ry class­room, li­bra­ry and re­source room, conti­nuing lap­top and ta­blet tech­no­lo­gy pro­grams and going for­ward with plans for a new “Centre de for­ma­tion en en­tre­prise et ré­cu­pé­ra­tion” (CFER) pro­gram at LaSalle Com­mu­ni­ty Com­pre­hen­sive High School.

And the ex­pan­sion of St. Pa­trick Ele­men­ta­ry School in Pin­court will go ahead des­pite the num­bers, which the board says it must do in or­der to ad­dress over­crow­ding at English schools in the re­gion.

The board ad­di­tio­nal­ly an­noun­ced bud­ge­ted re­ve­nues of $275,375,863, and ex­penses of $277,799,623 at the recent bud­get mee­ting.

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