The 2017-18 Calgary Board of Education budget was made public on June 9 and was presented to trustees for questioning at the June 13 public board meeting. While the budget is 189 pages long, the first 32 pages are an executive summary that provides a great overview of the document. The budget is part of the June 13 board meeting package (pages 5-17 to 5-208) and you can also watch the video of the board meeting and hear the answers to trustee questions on the CBE website. Trustees will be debating and voting on the budget at the June 20 public board meeting.
The following are just a few facts from the budget that you may find interesting.
- The CBE is projecting revenues of $1.365 billion and expenses of $1.380 billion in 2017-18. The $15 million deficit will be funded through the use of reserves and board-funded amortization. This will leave around $30 million or 2.2% of the operating budget in reserves by the end of August 2018.
- The CBE expects enrolment to grow by over 2,000 students or 1.7% next year.
- While the province provided an additional $43.7 million in funding to the CBE, only $18.5 million can actually be used for educational operating expenses. The rest is restricted funding for a specific use. (Page 5-66)
- Of the $18.3 million provided for Bill 1, $7.9 million is for transportation and $10.4 million is for instructional supplies and materials. As funding is based on the 2015-16 audited financials and not on the projected number of students in 2017-18, the funding will not be enough to completely cover the costs of completely removing certain fees, but should be relatively close.
- Provincial education funding per student (after removing restricted funding allocations) will be $8,851. For comparative purposes, this year (2016/17) it was $8,847. In 2011/12, it was $9,290. Yes, you read that correctly. Funding per student is still below 2011/12 levels while other costs have increased (including teacher salaries in 2015/16, after having had three years of 0%).
- CBE funding directly to schools will increase by $12.5 million or 1.4%, while central service units will be cut by $7.6 million or 3.7%. However, schools needed an increase of about 2.8% to maintain service levels in order to fund enrolment growth and inflationary costs.
- While salary increases are 0%, the CBE must still fund salary grid movement. As employees gain years of experience they get increases in salary until they are “at the top” of the salary grid, usually after 10 years of experience as part of their collective agreements. Even after replacing retiring employees who are at the top of the grid with staff who are at the entry levels, this grid movement will increase the CBE’s total salaries and benefits expenses by around $16 million or 1.5% in 2017-18.
- The $12.5 million increase to schools should allow (subject to principal decisions) for an additional 92 full time teaching and 26 full time support staff positions to be added to the system.
- If provincial funding rates continue to be frozen (ie. funding is provided for new students, but the per student funding rate remains flat), the CBE is projecting a shortfall of $35.5 million in 2018-19. This is in part due to the structural deficit being created in 2017-18 by using $10 million in reserves to balance the budget. The rest is due to non-discretionary costs such as salary grid movement and other supplies and services that are subject to inflation (eg. utilities, insurance, software licenses, etc.).
Obviously, this is just a tiny snapshot and I encourage you to read the executive summary, if not the whole budget for a more complete picture. Also, if you weren’t already aware, the CBE’s Chief Financial Officer, Brad Grundy, has a blog on the CBE website where he addresses common questions around the CBE budget. Here’s just a small sample of issues that he has addressed.