By Kevin Woodhouse
The latest Quebec provincial budget suggested school boards work more closely together to share or even merge common services, a practice Lester B. Pearson School board Chair Suanne Stein Day said the board has already been doing for some time.
The board currently shares its fiber optics system and some bus routes with the English Montreal School Board as well as cultural and student exchanges with the Marquerite Bourgeoys board.
“We are more than happy to share,” Stein-Day told The Suburban, notably in areas of fiscal management that has allowed the board to invest in the past for a modest surplus.
“We have never had to prevent a deficit because we have always lived within the rules of providing balanced budgets,” said Stein Day.
The installation of the all call messaging service that allows schools to send out targeted calls “have reduced our overall paper costs.”
Regarding the province’s budget pertaining to education, Stein Day said “there was not a lot on education but there was a confirmed 1.2% increase which sounds good because it is not a cut.
“Unfortunately, labour costs, which account for 80% of our total budget every year, will be going up two percent this year and Hydro rates are expected to rise by four percent,” said Stein-Day.
The board, with its surplus, could withstand anychangestoincreasedcost. Once the ministry of education sets out the spending parameters in the days to come, the LBPSB chair noted that “any changes will be made in a manner that suits the board and not being micromanaged,” said Stein Day.
“As one of the few boards with a surplus, we never gave into a deficit,” Stein-Day said. If eventual cuts are expected, Stein-Day hopes the board will have some say otherwise without reward for sound management in the past, “there is not much incentive to cut if we work within the rules since we have fewer administration and support staff than other boards as it is.”
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