School board passes 2012-2013 budget
In a 5-2 vote, Rocky View Schools (RVS) board of trustees passed its $173-million budget at a special meeting, May 24.
The meeting was called after trustees ran out of time to discuss the budget on May 17.
“I believe that this budget is a very good one,” said Board Chair Bruce Pettigrew. “It’s balanced and the services that our students need are being provided, and we are making progress on the goals and objectives of our three-year plan.”
This year’s budget, which is $13 million more than last year’s, includes a one per cent increase to basic instructional grants and a two per cent increase in other Provincial grants.
An infusion of $5.4 million in new monies was also received through a revised special education funding grant. New revenues from the grant agreement will make it possible for RVS to hire a full-time psychologist, occupational therapist and a speech pathologist in 2012.
RVS’ plant operations and maintenance department has laid-off three full-time carpenters and closed its in-house millwork shop because of “rising utility costs, additional school buildings square footage and labour costs far outstripping grant increases over the past few years.”
The budget also calls for no salary increases for any staff member of RVS in 2012-2013. Last year, RVS spent $4.5 million on staffing assistance, which is down to $4 million this year.
Superintendent Greg Bass was in charge of the meeting, taking questions and listening to concerns from the trustees regarding the budget.
The discussion revolved around an increase in the cost of technology infrastructure and hardware renewal, the cost of Internet – which includes a $650,000 cost for bandwidth - utilities, and 21st Century Learning Support.
Trustees Don Thomas and Sylvia Eggerer were opposed to the budget.
Thomas cited disappointment about the lack of special needs program funding and reallocation of $300,000 of Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) monies to cover costs of learning coaches, research coordinators and program administration.
AISI provides funding, above and beyond basic school grants, to all school authorities in the province. The funding is used in local initiatives and research.
“I’m concerned about the AISI, and the way that that’s gone… that’s a provincial cut too, but we have to adjust,” Thomas said.
Thomas also voiced his concern about the four per cent budget reduction in caretaking department services.
“Our schools have always been very well kept,” he said. “We’ve got some very old buildings that I think have been serviceable and will continue to be, but there’s a breaking point,” he said. “At some point in time we’re going to have to do some sort of cost benefit analysis to see how far we can push that.”
Trustees Norma Lang, Bev LaPeare, Helen Clease, Colleen Munro and Pettigrew voted in favour of the budget. The 2012-2013 budget will now be sent to Alberta Education for approval.