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P.O. Box 220, Gibsons, BC V0N 1V0 ~ Tel: (604) 886-8811 ~ Fax: (604) 886-4652
As you know, you announce funding for the next school year in mid-March, and we then proceedto set our preliminary budgets by June. Therefore, the period of January to May, 2012, was whenwe could have considered savings in the 2012–13 budget. During this timeframe, we alsoconsulted with our stakeholders. We simply cannot do any of this during a period that isessentially the winter holidays, from a budget that has already been set and is already halfwaycomplete.For next year, we can identify savings after you announce your allocation of provincial funding,which we expect in March. We need to forewarn you, though, that we’re also constrained by thefollowing anticipated expenses:
a 1.3% increase to the teacher pension plan ($210,000),
movement to a standardized extended health plan for teachers,
increases of $45,000 in WorkSafe BC premiums,
a potential loss of $63,056 from the supplement for the Education Plan.Speaking of which, now would be a good time to tell us how much in central savings you’vebeen able to find for a teachers’ bargaining savings plan. Teacher bargaining is currentlyscheduled to start in March. If you expect districts to fund this savings plan, as well, thisexpectation will have a huge impact on our ability to pay for a 3% support staff increase for2013–14 and beyond, and also to cover the list above of other expected budget increases.Our Board is committed to having a constructive relationship with the Ministry of Education, forthe benefit of the students and communities for which we are mutually responsible. To get on aconstructive track, we have a couple suggestions:1.
Appeal to the Ministry of Finance to recognize that the present Cooperative GainsMandate does not work for the K–12 system. You recognize very well in your letter thateach sector has to approach Cooperative Gains bargaining “differently” due to “thefinancial capacity of each sector.” So in recognition of your acknowledgement thatdifferent sectors have different financial capacities, how can government expect that it isnecessarily going to work for every sector? In the case of K–12 education, it doesn’t.Perhaps the government can back up its oft-stated commitment to education by findingcooperative gains savings for K–12 education from within government as a whole, eventhrough anticipated government revenues, rather than the limited scope of the K–12sector. If those funds are transferred into the Ministry, in fact, you could even complywith the Mandate.2.
Provide us with more certainty in regards to our 2013–14 budget. Please confirm whatother savings you expect us to find next year. Will this include a teacher bargainingsavings plan? Will no district’s funding be reduced, despite declining enrolment (aswe’ve gratefully been promised in the past)? Looking for savings outside a real budgetprocess in not practical right now, but if you can provide us with enough information toget a head start on 2013–14, we’d at least be in a better position to do so.