A motion to ratify the tentative framework agreement as prepared by the Alberta government and the Alberta Teachers’ Association was defeated by Clearview trustees in a 4-2 vote last Thursday.
Clearview board chair Ken Checkel said the agreement did contain positive features.
The board was pleased with the financial aspect — the province committed to looking after the cost of the increase in teachers’ salaries in the agreement.
The length of the agreement was also favourable.
“A four-year agreement brings four years of labour peace,” Checkel said.
He cited the board’s concerns of the agreement as being the limits on teacher instruction time, added bureaucracy, the impact on school boards if the province couldn’t keep its commitment on teachers’ salary increases and the balance of government, ATA and school boards in negotiations.
“School boards are being shut out — big government and big unions are taking over,” Checkel said.
He added school board powers are being curtailed in a number of areas, including input into professional development.
Budget discussions continue to dominate board meetings as the board works to have its 2013-14 budget in place by May.
The trustees voted to decrease their expense budget to $180,000 next year, from the $193,000 that was budgeted for the current year.
That amount would cover the costs accrued when Clearview trustees attend meetings and conferences.
The cut responded in part to a directive in the provincial budget for school boards’ allowable spending on administration to be reduced by 10 per cent.
Trustee Peter Simons suggested a way to further reduce board expenses would be to cut trustee benefits to 75 per cent.
Trustees discussed how to divide the Equity of Opportunity grant, which the province increased in its spring budget.
The board approved $644, 000 for instructional purposes and the balance of the grant, about $300,000, will go to the transportation budget.
That amount is less than transportation received from the grant in the current year.
Clearview secretary-treasurer Lewis Hill said the loss of the Fuel Contingency grant will amount to a reduction of only $10,000 to $11,000 in the current year, due to conservative budgeting expectations of the grant by administration.
The 2013-14 transportation budget will see a greater impact, however, with the loss of the fuel grant — a drop of about $200,000 in funding.
Hill said the possibility of the number of bus routes being reduced could not be ruled out at this time.
The board learned the cost of substitute teachers was on the rise. Last year, the bill for substitute teachers was more than $500,000.
The board favoured the potential of expanding dual-credit programs through its co-operation with Red Deer College and other colleges in the province.
Most of the programming is now in the CTS area, something the board wishes to expand on.