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MONTREAL, JUNE 18, 2003- Despite a pledge not to make any cuts in education and assertions that "system costs" were fully provided for, the new Quebec Liberal government’s consultative funding parameters released in last week’s budget show major funding decreases for the province’s public school boards.

If the government’s spending plans are not reversed, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) stands to lose $2,379,000 in funding. The EMSB is scheduled to adopt its 2003-2004 budget on Wednesday, June 25.

"There is a flaw in this process," stated EMSB Chairman Dr. John Simms. "Why did the Quebec Liberal Party promise not to touch the education budget? Why did it create this expectation and then, on the eve of when every public school board in Quebec must adopt a budget, introduce these major compressions? We have all been placed in an impossible position."

The budget parameters were released last Friday and the consultation period ends on June 27, two days after the EMSB budget is scheduled to be tabled.

A careful analysis of the compressions by the EMSB Financial Services Department shows the breakdown of the $2,379,000 as follows:

  • A new compression based on two percent of the local taxation grant would result in a $904,000 cut. The government has stated that based on the estimate of the school tax dollars collected, it will reduce funding by two percent of the estimated $45 million of school revenue destined for the Board.

  • Full elimination of the $658,000 required for schools to complete their Educational Success Plans. Under Bill 124, the Quebec Education mandates school boards to adopt Success Plans. Work has been underway on this process for almost three years. "Do we just stop this process at a time when the success plans were about to be actualized?" asks Dr. Simms.

  • A subsidy for short-term interest of $562,000 is not included in the parameters. School boards have come to count upon this subsidy which funds the cost of borrowings arising from the timing of Ministry grant transfers to the school boards.

  • The Board is scheduled to incur a negative indexation of energy costs of $173,000. Boards like the EMSB have already seen their energy costs rise significantly the past number of years, with funding seriously lagging behind these costs. Fossil fuel prices have risen in 2002-2003 alone by over 30 percent.

  • The elimination of scheduled temporary relief from a decrease in the Small School grant of $82,000. Boards had previously been assured that grant reductions would be spread over three years.
  • The EMSB is calling upon the Quebec government to reinstate this funding. Failing to do so will have a very negative impact on the students in the system. EMSB officials, along with those from other boards, will be in Quebec City tomorrow for previously scheduled meetings with the Ministry of Education to discuss last week’s budget.

    Michael J. Cohen
    Communications and Marketing Specialist
    English Montreal School Board
    Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
    Fax: (514) 483-7213