LBPSB cries foul over budget rules

Quebec slices $11 million from coming school year

By Robert Frank

“The cuts we’ve received so far have exceeded our expectations,” lamented Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) chair Suanne Stein Day before the school board voted last week to delay its tabling its budget for the 2014-2015 school year. “We have to respond [by June 27] even though the budget rules and parametres are incomplete, and we’ve been told that if we don’t do so in time, our response most likely won’t be considered.”

During LBPSB’S June 23 commissioners meeting, Stein Day also complained that Quebec Education Ministry budget guidelines are inequitable to English boards like LBPSB.

“For example, various grants we receive [will be] awarded based on criteria such as population, socioeconomic factors and pedagogical programs in place,” she explained, in response to The Suburban’s request for details. “Requirements, the French boards for instance have on francization and centres d’acceuil for immigrants.” 

“We’re being cut on one criterion only,” Stein Day added. “That is the population of the youth centre with the number of daycare students added. Just looking it based on population already poses inequities but the more students attending our daycare programs, the larger the percentage of money that we are cut.”

“Almost 50 per cent of elementary students attend our daycare,” she observed. “Other boards that might have 10-15 per cent of students attending their daycare are getting less cuts on things like classroom success plans or resources. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Stein Day said that LBPSB only received preliminary budget rules from Quebec City, June 13 and was only given until June 27 to propose how it would deal with the cuts. 

“Yes, specific lines in budget [indicate that] the grants that are directed for special needs children are affected,” she confirmed in response to a question by Ward 14 Commissioner Joe Zemanovich. “This is one of the biggest areas that we have to work at.”

“We don’t even know where they’re going to cut yet, but they want us to suggest something that’s [still] up in the air,” complained Ward 4 Commissioner Frank di Bello.

“Maybe we should also be mentioning this to our MNAs,” suggested LBPSB vice-chair Angela Nolet, “because they would be very important to lobby.”

As a result, commissioners are expected to gather again tonight for a hastily convened special meeting of LBPSB council to pass its delayed budget for the coming school year.
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