Brockville – The Upper Canada District School Board’s (UCDSB) Committee of the Whole tonight received the proposed Governance budget report for 2013-14. This budget provides funding for the honorarium and activities of the Board’s trustees. This budget line also funds the professional development for the Trustee Liaison Officer.. Here are key points from the report:
· The Trustee’s budget for 2013-14 is forecast to be $424,517.
· This represents a $ 100,000 increase over the budgeted amount from 2012-13. The increase is to fulfill the Board’s Accountability Framework.
· This budget covers honourarium, professional development, operations – supplies & services, association & member fees and other contractual services.
· We have allocated monies saved from operational efficiencies to increase the professional development line. In this year, further savings from reduced meeting expenses will help offset this increase.
· The trustee budget is aligned with the Board’s strategic plan and drive for operational excellence – to support the trustees in fulfillment of their legislative obligations; increase public confidence in public education; and ensure the resources are allocated responsibly.
· The proposed budget features a number of cost savings compared to the 2012-13 school term including:
o 40% reduction ($3,626.60) in meal costs for board meetings;
o Over $20,000 saved in teleconference calls; and
o $29,326 saved in webcasting of board meetings.
Review of Character Traits
One of the cornerstones of the Upper Canada District School Board is Character Always!, which focuses on incorporating the traits of character into everyday life – it is part of you, even when you don’t think anyone is watching. It has been 9 years (officially introduced in 2004) since our adoption of the Board’s eight Character Always! traits.
Tonight the board received a report describing how 99 students from 32 schools were asked whether any of the traits should be removed or replaced. The students agreed that all of the eight traits should be retained and two new traits added, namely ‘Courage’ and ‘Generosity’.
The Board’s Committee of the Whole is recommending the Upper Canada District School Board add generosity and courage to our Character Always! traits. That recommendation will go to the June 19th board meeting.
Parent Messaging System Update
The Board received an update on the Information Technology department’s project to introduce a more effective parent messaging system. The goal is to provide school staff with the ability to broadcast messages via email, SMS and voice to all parents or subsets of parents (school, family of school or class). As well, the system will allow:
· Parents to update personal contact information and preferences through a self-service web interface;
· Parent contact information to be synchronized between messaging system and authoritative data sources (e.g. PowerSchool – single authoritative source of student and parent information); and
· The interface to form the foundation for all parent-facing, web-based services offered by the UCDSB now and in the future (e.g. online registration, safe arrival, e-commerce, & other service requests).
The plan is to have the news system fully operational by June 2014.
Funding Employee Future Benefits Liability
The Board received a report tonight from the business department outlining that, for the board to be in the financial position to pay future benefits (retirement gratuities – $36.9 million, post-retirement benefits – $0.26 million, and Workplace Safety & Insurance – $2.3 million), it would need to begin setting aside millions of dollars for many years, beginning with approximately $4.5 million in 2013-14. The report further identified that over the next 9 years the board would need to accumulate $18 million for that purpose. As well, this money would be funds normally used to fund classroom activities. Changes introduced by the Ministry of Education regarding budget compliance have caused this issue for the board.
Tonight Committee of the Whole recommended that the Upper Canada District School Board authorize the Chair and Director to lobby forcefully to highlight the ability of the board to be compliant in the future retirement gratuity amortization schedule without detracting from funds for student needs.