School board trustees are required by law to approve the annual budget of the school district. In approving the budget, Calgary Board of Education (CBE) trustees are taking responsibility for how over a billion taxpayer dollars are being allocated within the CBE. The most recent budget presented to and passed by a majority of CBE trustees contained expenses of $1,176,865,000 broken down into only five line items as follows:
$933,602,000 for Instruction: ECS – Grade 12
$140,271,000 for Operations & Maintenance
$ 43,099,000 for Transportation
$ 33,348,000 for Board & System Administration
$ 26,545,000 for External services
No further breakdowns of these line items were provided.
Five of the seven trustees felt that this was sufficient information and passed the budget. The other two voted against the budget, not because they felt that money was being spent inappropriately, but because they simply didn’t know how that billion dollars was being used.
Over the past three years, I have asked many questions about how our education dollars are being spent, and I have advocated for greater financial transparency from the CBE.
I feel that Calgarians deserve to know whether our public funds are being used in a responsible and efficient manner that will benefit students as much as possible. It is especially crucial in times of tight budgets, where teacher and school support staff positions are being cut, that the public and trustees are provided with the information necessary to be confident that everything possible is being done to minimize the impact of limited funding on students.