Calgary parents' group alarmed over CBE Palm Springs trip

The chair of a local parents' group is alarmed over some of the Calgary Board of Education's spending.

Trip cost roughly $1,500 each for 3 trustees

The chair of a local parents' group is alarmed over some of the Calgary Board of Education's spending after it came to light three trustees took a trip to Palm Springs.

Documents detailing the CBE's spending have been made public and reveal three trustees went to a two-day conference in Palm Springs. The trip cost roughly $1,500 per person but there is no record of what the trustees did during the trip.

"There's no report about what they learned, what they did, anything like that," said Josh Traptow, chair of the Association for Responsible Trusteeship in Calgary Schools, or ARCTICS. "There's basically no accountability for what those dollars went to. It's basically their word against everything else."

Traptow says in light of recent provincial budget cuts, the trip doesn't look good.

Trustee Pamela King was one of the people who went to Palm Springs.

She says she knew it would be an issue and that she thought hard about it before going.

"I did a lot of reflection on, you know, what is the value to me to be able to go to this conference and to be able to give back to our organization," said King. "For me, the better choice would have been to go to Palm Springs for the professional development that that provides."

King represents Ward 5 and 10 and says just seeing numbers in a report does not always reflect the value of a particular event.

Trip follows $62M budget shortfall

The CBE passed its $1 billion budget for the 2013-14 year in May.

The board faced a $62 million shortfall and had to trim administration as well as school staff and programs.

The cuts came after the province reneged on a promise to increase funding by two percent. It instead held the line on $6.1 billion in operation and property tax support to public and separate schools across Alberta.

Despite CBE estimates of 3,000 new students entering the school system, Finance Minister Doug Horner said in March that it will be up to school boards to make do with the money they have.


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