Pearson board announces $1 million deficit
St. Pats expansion going ahead despite grim numbers
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.
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.