EMSB says no

Refuses larger budget cuts

By Joel Ceausu

The English Montreal School Board won’t be toeing the provincial line on budget cuts, and has only agreed to a partial reduction for its current school year.

Quebec City wanted $3.8 million lopped off the EMSB’s $275 million budget—most of which is already dedicated to negotiated salaries—and the board asked to delay the cuts, recalling that $20 million has already been slashed since 2010, and would be heading for a $5.2 million deficit with those cuts.

The provincial government nixed the request, insisting that $2.3 million come off right away, something the board rejected at their last council meeting before the first election in seven years.

Commissioners voted to part with a much smaller amount, $1.4 million garnered from its international student and adult education operations after board Chairman Angela Mancini let it be known early on in the meeting that she would vote against a plan put forward by her own administration to meet the government request, and would only agree to the smaller compression.

Many commissioners—some of whom are not running in the coming elections, took turns voicing their outrage, some vowing “to go to jail” before cutting even a nickel from special needs student services and other programs, which the larger cut would certainly affect.

“People are worried the government is going to come here and put us under trusteeship? Let them come,” said Agostino Cannavino. “This is the message we have to send to the population…and maybe we’ll get enough momentum and we can send a message to the government that it’s enough. This is an educational service and we need it, it’s vital.”

The Commission scolaire de Montréal refused Quebec’s marching orders to cut $9 million from its nearly billion-dollar budget last month, prompting the education ministry to send in the auditors. Similar concerns hover around the EMSB, where continually declining enrolment has some people wondering why costs aren’t going down as fast as enrolment.
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