The Board reviewed  the proposed budget for 2015-2016.  The Board faces a number of challenges with the resources the Province has made available:

• EPSB is projecting enrolment growth of 3 per cent (more than 2,700 students) for 2015-
2016. With no funding for enrolment growth, EPSB is estimating the cost of educating
these additional students at $15.3 million.
• The base instruction grant rates have been segregated into two components, teacher
compensation and non-teacher compensation. The portion related to teacher compensation
has been increased by 2 per cent whereas the non-teacher compensation component has
been decreased by 3.1 per cent.
• Following three years of a salary freeze, the teacher’s collective agreement for 2015-2016
includes a 2 per cent increase in teacher compensation costs, and a 1 per cent lump sum
payment to teachers. The estimated cost to the District is approximately $12.5 million.
• Funding for children with severe disabilities/delays (Program Unit Funding) will be based
on the current year budget less 3.1 per cent and will not be adjusted for any increase related
to enrolment growth. The District is currently calculating the financial impact of this.
• The English as a Second Language, Equity of Opportunity, First Nations, Metis and Inuit
Education, Outreach Programs, Plant Operations and Maintenance, and Socio-Economic
Status grants have all been reduced by 3.1 per cent. The Inclusive Education and
Transportation grants have been reduced by 1.9 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. The
total impact of these reductions to the District is estimated to be a reduction of $4.8 million
in funding compared to the current year.
• As mandated by the Province, EPSB must end the current year with an accumulated surplus
from operations of $35.2 million. EPSB will only be able to access these funds during the
2015-2016 school year with Ministerial approval. Approval will only be granted if the
request supports strategies to transition away from the future use of reserves in order to
operate within the annual Provincial budget allocation by 2016-2017.
Therefore, the net funding impact, including projected increases in student enrolment of 3 per
cent, means the District will provide education services to just over 92,000 students with
reduced funding dollars and restrictions related to staffing options (unable to reduce front line
certificated FTE’s) and restrictions around its ability to access surplus funds (created by being
fiscally responsible over the prior years).

These restrictions may mean increased class sizes, reduced numbers of educational assistants and other non-teaching staff including specialized supports, greater pressures on teachers, and less opportunity for innovation through initiatives such as Career Pathways. These outcomes are the opposite of the priorities that the District heard from the recent survey that more than 3000 parents responded to.  Along with the advocacy of the Board, I ask that parents and community members make their concerns known to all candidates for the Provincial election.

The Board also received first reading of a proposed new policy on stakeholder relations.  Given the requirements of the new Education Act, the vision of Inspiring Education to strengthen student success through community partnerships, and the challenge of limited resources, this policy needs to carefully foster stakeholder relations. Please let me know your feedback on the proposed policy.