Q&A, ThoughtExchange & PowerPoint—Virtual Budget Town Hall, Jan. 25, 2024
On January 25, 2024, the Board of Trustees held a Virtual Budget Town Hall to provide an overview of the current financial situation of the division, the budget process, and next steps in the budget deliberations among the Board of Trustees and senior administration.
Attendees were provided an opportunity to ask budget-related questions during the event. In the spirit of open, transparent, and honest communication with our public, below you will find responses to the questions posed, as well as the PowerPoint presentation that was shared and the results of the board’s recent ThoughtExchange (see bottom of this page). Please note: We have combined similar questions. If you submitted a question during the budget meeting and you do not see a response below, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and remember to attend our second Virtual Budget Town Hall on February 29, 2024, from 7–8 p.m. More details will soon be made available on our website home page.
PROGRAMMING & SERVICES
Our goal for our children is for them to be provided with quality education that will have them on a better footing when they seek higher education. With budget cuts, like scrapping the IB program, how does RETSD plan to prepare promising students for the competitive world? Will there be more cuts? (Hopefully, you’re also not cutting the AP program.)
If the province doesn't come through with better funding for the upcoming year, are there specific programs at risk of being cut?
We still do not know the full picture of the funding. After the funding announcement is made, senior administration will engage in further deliberations and bring recommendations regarding additions and reductions to the board for their consideration. If changes to the current budget are required, we will consider information from multiple sources, including feedback from the recent ThoughtExchange and parent forum, the operational needs of the school division, provincial educational requirements, the sustainability of programs and programming, and evidence-based research about teaching, learning, and instruction.
What is the annual cost of the lunch program for the division? And how many students pay into the lunch program (given how many are bused to school now and do not pay into the program)? If no funding is allocated to this program, will its funding model be re-evaluated (i.e., fees for all students)?
Lunch programs are parent-run programs and are not paid for by the division, apart from lunch program fees for students the division is obligated by The Public Schools Act to transport. These parent-run programs expect all users to pay fees to the organizing committee. There are no immediate plans to revisit the policy governing parent-run, user-run lunch supervision programs.
Was it a budgetary decision to end booking outside venues where Grade 12 students could graduate together—as an entire class at one time versus being broken into groups—as has been the case over the past two years?
No, this was not a budgetary decision. In RETSD, we regularly re-examine our methods to ensure what we are doing best serves our community. We know there were many barriers to attending convocation. Sometimes it was timing, sometimes it was accessibility to the venue, which was outside our community, and sometimes it was transportation. We really wanted to make sure this was inclusive and accessible to everyone. Although the groups are smaller, we know many more of our graduates are attending graduation now.
Do you think the current way you decide to allocate educational assistant hours works for supporting students with additional needs? It seems like schools were able to apply for additional staff in the past as they learned the needs of students. Something changed a few years ago and that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. How do you decide this piece of the staffing?
The provincial funding application process for students with additional needs changed in 2016. Although private schools still use this process to obtain additional funding to support students, public schools receive a fixed amount of money from the province for this purpose. The funds are allocated to support the additional needs of students and are not specifically allocated for educational assistants, although that is often how much of the money is spent. The current dollar amount received from the province is matched by RETSD to ensure every student has the resources they need to have a successful school experience. School-specific allocation of these funds is based on the site-based characteristics of each school. The challenge RETSD is having with this fixed-funding formula is that the funds allocated to the division have remained virtually stagnant at 2016 levels and have not accounted for our increased enrolment and an increase in the number of students who would benefit from this additional support.