School Board Meeting Minutes: May 21, 2009 - Special
Category : School Board Meeting - Minutes
Published by Michelle MacLeod [Michelle MacLeod] on 05/27/2009

Central Office
Sydney, N.S.
May 21, 2009



A Special Board meeting of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board was called to order today beginning at 5:10 p.m.


Present: Lorne Green, Chair Steve Parsons Darren MacNeil
 Charlie Keagan Barb Mercer Sandra Margettie
 Cathi Pierrard Joan Currie Kevin Ruelland
Absent: Darlene Morrison(regrets) Fred Tilley(regrets) Jackie Organ(regrets)
 Gary Fraser Darren Googoo Darryl Flynn
Also Present: N.E. Davis, Superintendent of Schools
 B.MacIsaac, Director of Human Resource Services
 J.Astephen, Director of Programs and Student Services
 G. Boudreau, Director of Financial Services
 A. White, Director of Operational Services
 J. Burton, Director of Regional Educational Services
 Michelle MacLeod, Board Recording Secretary


Mr. Davis, Superintendent of Schools, began the session with opening remarks regarding the work that the budget team has done on their behalf.  He noted the one thing which the Board should be proud of is that there will be no lay-offs in the Board.  He advised that to date, three school communities have expressed interest in presenting to the Board their concerns with regards to reductions in their school communities.  He noted that salary, wages and benefits is 85% of the budget.  Twenty-eight positions have been reduced from the classroom.  One position from administration, sixteen positions reduced from programs and administrative support.  He noted that all of these positions will have an impact on programming.  He also advised of a reduction of five bus driver positions, fifteen teacher assistant positions and the issue of reducing further non-teaching staff through retirements and resignations will be further reviewed.  He noted that individuals will be displaced.  The budget team will review any staffing requests in September, 2009 and will not entertain any reviews at the present time.  Teacher staffing formula is set for each of the areas, such as; elementary, junior high and senior high levels.  Caps are in place in Grades Primary, One, Two and three.  There is also a cap on double grades of twenty.  He reiterated that education is inadequately funded in the province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Davis advised that it is the Board’s responsibility to provide a balanced budget.

Mr. George Boudreau, Director of Financial Services, noted The result of adding additional positions has placed our Board in a serious situation which we have to now address.  Mr. Boudreau noted that declining enrollment is a concern across the province and by addressing the staff  issue this year will have a significant impact in our ability to not only balance this years budget but also future years’ operating budget.  (Report attached to original minutes) We can always wish and make use of additional Education funding however because we have not achieved the mandated cuts over the years if it is not a big surprise that we now have a budget shortfall of $3,000.000. 

Commissioner Parsons noted that we have increased teaching staff over the years however we have significantly increased the number of teacher assistants over the years.  He would like to justify the reason for increasing this need.  Commissioner Keagan spoke regarding correspondence which is received from pediatricians and medical doctors requesting service.  He also spoke with regards to requests from parent(s)/guardian(s).  Mrs. Beth MacIsaac, Director of Human Resources, noted that the number of teacher assistants has been leveling off over the past couple of years and that a stringent criteria is now in place in order to receive the assistance of a teacher assistant. As the students move through the system it is the initiative of programs and human resources to provide shared services for these students rather than full-time service.  Commissioner Keagan questioned whether the Board has ever requested from the province further funding to support these needs.  Mr. Davis noted that this request has been made on several occasions to no avail.  He also advised that the Board has also spoke to the Minister of Health and the Cape Breton District Health Authority due to the increase in requests through the health field.

Mrs. MacIsaac spoke regarding the teacher assistant allotment for the 2009 school year.  Each school will receive an allotment and the students who are to receive support through this service.  The students will still achieve the support which they need.

Mr. Boudreau distributed information regarding the budget shortfall and areas which were identified to address our budget.  He also identified Department of Education initiatives that have been reduced through the budget.  Items such as the Innovative Challenge fund, textbook credit allocation, literacy improvement and learning success. (report attached to the original minutes)

Mr. White, Director of Operational Services advised of the reduction of five bus driver positions through attrition.  Equipment which was purchased late in the year will mean a reduction in budgeted expenditures for property service in 2009/2010.  He also advised that bus runs are reviewed on a continued basis. 

Commissioner Parsons questioned the membership fees which were given to the NSSBA which could be used towards staffing.  Mr. Boudreau advised that he will be conducting a cost benefit analysis in September so that the Board can make a decision on whether they wish to continue to belong to the Association.  Commissioner Parsons also felt that if the Halifax Board is getting a reduced rate, and if we are to maintain our membership then we too should receive a reduced rate.  He also questioned the legal fees which the Board is expending.  Mrs. MacIsaac noted that she will bring in the details for the expenditures towards legal services.  She also spoke regarding the Employee Benefits Committee and the market study which is conducted on an annual basis. 

Mr. John Astephen, Director of Programs and Student Services provided a position statement with regards to the level of services which are provided throughout the Board.  He advised it is the intent to realign position in order to provide appropriate service according to the identified students and the intent to address the large caseloads which may exist at identified sites.  Proposed reductions were provided to the Board.  He followed up discussions by reviewing the proposed changes for the Reading Recovery program.  Physical Education was discussed and it was recognized as a difficult area to sustain reductions.  Fine Arts was the last program area discussed with the proposed changes being recognized.  It was noted that circuits themselves will be affected due to realignments. He advised that changes will be implemented in the instrumental music portion on the Northside

Moved by Commissioner Ruelland
Seconded by Commissioner Margettie

That the Board approve the reduction of seventeen additional positions in the area of program services for the 2009-2010 school year. . . .

Motion carried

Mr. Boudreau noted that the reduction approved today is significant and wold have been easier has these cuts been achieved over the years as was intended.

Mr. Boudreau further stated that while these FTE’s cuts will go a long way towards balancing this year’s budget, it will have a significant impact in balancing next year’s budget also as we will realize the full impact of these FTE’s cuts.

The Board was advised that despite these cuts, we will have a shortfall of $217,000.  The Board agreed that senior staff should meet to solve their shortfall so that a balance budget can be prepared for the Board’s consideration.

Commissioner Parsons thanked senior staff for the presentation this evening and advised that he found the information very informative.

(4) Adjournment of the meeting. . .

the meeting adjourned at  7:50 p.m.