4 million dollars of budget cuts for Estrie Region School Boards
Following the tabling of the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS) draft Budget Rules, the councils of commissioners of the Estrie region’s anglophone and francophone school boards ( Commission scolaire de la Région-deSherbrooke, Commission scolaire des Sommets, Commission scolaire des Hauts-Cantons and the Eastern Townships School Board) are unanimous in expressing their shock over the close to 4 million dollars in compressions to school boards in the Estrie region.
Not only were these cuts, which will affect the administration, unexpected, they also arrive at a very inopportune time in the school boards’ budget preparation process, a process with which the MELS is very familiar. The school boards have been working since last fall to comply with Bill 100 that seeks to re-establish a balanced budget for the province’s finances, and which already involves significant cuts. The boards will be adopting their budgets for the next school year at the end of June 2011, which leaves their administrators very little time and leeway to develop a second plan for making significant cutbacks. Gaétan Perron, Chair of the Commission scolairedes Hauts-Cantons Council of Commissioners and Chair of the Table des présidents et
directeurs généraux des commissions scolaires de l’Estrie condemns this situation.
“No one in the system had seen this news coming. We agree that efforts must be made to balance Quebec’s finances and that is why we responded to the demands of Bill 100. This new call to make sizeable cutbacks will absolutely
have an impact on our ability to offer services. The problem is that at this time of year, our boards’ budgetary choices have already been made and will be voted on within the next month. Making cuts and reviewing the way we do things requires time, reflection and discussions. With this new poorly-timed announcement of further cuts, the MELS is preventing school boards from taking the time needed to find solutions. It will be difficult to make further cutbacks to administrative services while trying not to diminish their quality.”
It is important to note that administrative services are services for students, for example
transportation services, pedagogical support, financial management, secretarial services, human resources management, etc. It would be unfortunate to have to reduce these services, which are vital to the development of our communities.
The school boards also deplore the fact that, on one hand, the government maintains that education is one of its priorities while on the other, it imposes poorly-timed budget cuts.