Independent district budget analysis finds inconsistencies
MISSION—An analysis of the Mission school district’s budget finds compelling evidence that seriously inaccurate budgeting by the district has meant unnecessary disruption to students and families, and the unnecessary loss of valuable staff.
The analysis, prepared by TURB Research Ltd. of Vancouver, looks at the operational budgeting, financial performance and staffing patterns of the district. Research analyst David Fairey says that consistently large discrepancies between estimated expenditures and staffing levels and what has actually happened over a period of years points to the need for a hard look at how the district budget process works.
CUPE Local 593, which represents staff in the school district, commissioned the study. President George Forsythe says the most significant issue for 330 affected students and their parents is that the school closures did not have to happen. “Instead of a $2 million deficit, our district is projecting a surplus of over $600,000. So – clearly – we are in a position to take another look at these school closures.”
Forsythe says that the study also finds that school enrolment is going to stabilize starting next year – 2008-09 – and will then grow steadily for the next five years. “The combination of increasing enrolments and the new provincial government policy on introducing full-day kindergarten into the public school system means that we will likely need that school space,” says Forsythe.
Forsythe says that CUPE wants to work with the Board of Education, parents, teachers and others who are concerned about the public school system to improve the budgeting process.
Other highlights of the report include:
The district budget projects a savings of only $210,000 in staff salary costs (the vast majority of costs for operating schools) for the current year, despite school closures.
Over the past seven years, spending on professional development and travel has increased by 11 per cent a year and spending on contracted services increased by 13 per cent a year. Both of these areas are projected to decrease in the 2008-09 year.
Staffing costs have been consistently underestimated in the past three years – by as much as 7.4 per cent in 2005-06.
Contact: George Forsythe, CUPE 593 president (604) 302-4520;
Susan Jansen, CUPE National representative (604)751-6543;
David Fairey, Research Analyst (604) 255-7346