Saturday, December 10, 2016

More cash will flow to supports for special needs students and English language learners after Edmonton Public Schools was pleasantly surprised to find itself with a $96.5-million surplus.--------Nervous about the economic downturn potentially affecting education spending, individual schools, which manage their own budgets, spent conservatively last year, leaving an extra $12 million unspent. Of that, $5.6 million will flow into a dedicated fund for schools’ unpredictable needs and improvement and research projects.------------Most of the district’s surplus comes when people leave their jobs and the post isn’t immediately filled, Burnstad said.---------Julie Ali · University of Alberta I have to admit I am curious about this surplus. How is it that the Edmonton Public School Board was able to generate this surplus in this year and not all years? Did they have high staff turnover without replacement of staff? Did staff get less hours? I am also curious why this surplus is being put now into special needs education when it should have been put into this area all along. I mean if there is a need and the surplus is addressing this need, doesn't this mean that there is a need when there is no surplus that is not being addressed by the school board? Frankly speaking I did not find the Edmonton Public School Board every effective at addressing the needs of disabled students at the elementary and junior high school level. There seems to be a deficit in terms of early diagnosis and a failure to produce effective integrated IPPs. I don't think this problem has been addressed. Disabled students may be better served at the high school level but really without their needs being met early in the process, it's difficult to recover lost ground. Like · Reply · Just now-

http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/edmonton+public+schools+pours+extra+money+into+programs+after/12453012/story.html

Edmonton Public Schools pours extra money into programs after posting surplus

JANET FRENCH, EDMONTON JOURNAL  
Edmonton Public Schools pours extra money into programs after posting surplus
Michael Janz, chair of the board for the Edmonton Public School Board, says parents should ask provincial candidates how they will ensure schools are funded appropriately. Photo taken on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 Credit: Elise Stolte
ELISE STOLTE / EDMONTON JOURNAL
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More cash will flow to supports for special needs students and English language learners after Edmonton Public Schools was pleasantly surprised to find itself with a $96.5-million surplus.
When all the money was counted from the 2015-16 school year, school district financial managers tallied $20 million more than they expected. On Tuesday, the board approved a plan to spend $60.8 million from accumulated surpluses on more student services, technological upgrades in schools, and building improvements, like fresh coats of paint.
“We are concerned about ensuring that education is protected in the economic volatility within the province. We want to make sure that the district is properly resourced, not just this year, but over the next number of years,” board chair Michael Janz said.
Nervous about the economic downturn potentially affecting education spending, individual schools, which manage their own budgets, spent conservatively last year, leaving an extra $12 million unspent. Of that, $5.6 million will flow into a dedicated fund for schools’ unpredictable needs and improvement and research projects.
“I spoke to many principals who were teachers during the (former premier Ralph) Klein cuts and remember how harsh those conditions were for our district. Naturally, they want to make sure that kids are protected and that initiatives are sustainable,” Janz said.
However — sorry, parents — using the surplus to cut or eliminate school fees is not part of the plan. For that, the school district would need a predictable annual source of funding, and surpluses are too volatile, chief financial officer Todd Burnstad said.
The Calgary Board of Education reported a 58-per-cent jump in the number of families who applied to waive their school fees last year due to an inability to pay. Edmonton public doesn’t track numbers of waivers or unpaid fees at the district level, Burnstad said.
After hearing about too much variation in lunch supervision fees between schools, the district put a cap on them this year, he said. Schools expect to collect nearly $32 million in 2016-17 to offset the costs of books, busing, supervision and specialty programs.
This year’s surplus is just short of nine per cent of the district’s total $1.16-billion budget, or, enough to run the school district for 17 days.
Some of the extra has flowed to schools to top up allowances for special needs and English language learner students, which principals and vice-principals will spend as they see fit. Money will also be set aside the event the board reaches new agreements with custodial, support and non-teaching professional staff. Money is now in the bank for startup costs for 11 new public schools scheduled to open their doors in September 2017.
Expecting another $50.5-million surplus at the end of the current school year, the district is also starting up a multi-year program to upgrade schools’ connectivity by regularly replacing computer servers, switches, wireless routers, Internet service and computer equipment.
Most of the district’s surplus comes when people leave their jobs and the post isn’t immediately filled, Burnstad said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that the board set aside money for new agreements with non-teaching staff, not teachers. The expected surplus is $50.5-million not $39-million.

Julie Ali · 
I have to admit I am curious about this surplus. How is it that the Edmonton Public School Board was able to generate this surplus in this year and not all years?
Did they have high staff turnover without replacement of staff?
Did staff get less hours?

I am also curious why this surplus is being put now into special needs education when it should have been put into this area all along. I mean if there is a need and the surplus is addressing this need, doesn't this mean that there is a need when there is no surplus that is not being addressed by the school board?

Frankly speaking I did not find the Edmonton Public School Board every effective at addressing the needs of disabled students at the elementary and junior high school level. There seems to be a deficit in terms of early diagnosis and a failure to produce effective integrated IPPs. I don't think this problem has been addressed. Disabled students may be better served at the high school level but really without their needs being met early in the process, it's difficult to recover lost ground.
LikeReplyJust now
Cheri L Bass · 
This is rotten as is the sale of designated school land going to school boards instead of the Provincial treasury.
Paul Letelete
The day this happens to the Calgary School Board, is the day hell freezes over.

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