Eastern Townships School Board Adopts A Balanced Budget In Spite Of Continued Compressions
At its June 25th meeting, the Eastern Townships School Board’s (ETSB) Council of Commissioners adopted a balanced budget for the 2013-2014 school year totalling just over $73 million. This is in spite of a compression of more than $2.7 million that includes recurring and new budget cuts. Included in these compressions is the additional gradual elimination of equalization grants announced by the ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et
du Sport (MELS), which for the 2013-2014 school year total close to $1.7 million. At the April Council of Commissioners’ meeting, the council adopted a resolution to eliminate, over the next three years, the reduction accorded to taxpayers to recoup the compression resulting from the loss of the equalization grants. The uniform taxation rate for 2013-2014 will go from 0.31954 to 0.27009 per $100 of evaluation. The ETSB covers a territory that includes 175 municipalities, therefore although the uniform rate has decreased, some will see a reduction in their overall tax bills, some no change and others an increase. “Due to the fact that the ETSB does not have an accumulated surplus, we had to look at alternatives to cover the compressions. After closely examining all our options, the council made the difficult decision to recoup some of the compressions through taxation. We are presenting a balanced operating budget without reducing direct services to students. Not having an accumulated surplus to use has obliged us to closely examine our operations to ensure the future of our school board. We have made great progress over the last few years in reducing our dropout rate and increasing our graduation and student success rates, to name a few, and want to continue this focus. We are very sensitive to the impact on taxpayers across our territory that the elimination of the reduction factor will have. It is our hope that the communities we serve will understand that our hands are tied by the MELS decision and we need their collaboration,” expressed André Turcotte, Assistant Director General and Director of Finance. Since 2004-2005 the ETSB’s dropout rate has gone from 39.4 to 22.8, which is a decrease of 42% over six years. The ETSB offers educational services to close to 6000 students, with 20 elementary schools, three high schools, one alternative high school, two adult education centres, two vocational training centres, a global learning institute with distance education and an international students program.