Help us say no to budget cuts sign now

Our school is currently facing budget cuts of up to 2 million for 2011 and 2012 . Unless the school can negotiate a lower reduction it will be forced to make cuts to the educational curriculum which could affect core educational choices and endanger the future of our children.

The Parents' Association is extremely concerned about this development and calls upon all parents to raise their voices.

Background

The European Schools system is financed mainly through three revenues sources, the European Commission, the Member States and individual fees for category II and III pupils. This money pays for salaries, inventories and educational material.

Food, transport and after-school activities are run by the Parents' Association and buildings are maintained by the Belgian state. Neither form part of the school budget.

The current situation

The original budget for 2011 was agreed in April 2010. It was larger than the 2010 budget taking into account inflation and the increase in the number of pupils. However, in late 2010 the Member States demanded that the European Commission make significant reductions to its contribution to the budget and the Commission responded by demanding a reduced budget from the schools for 2011. In this revised budget the amount allocated to our school for 2011 was reduced by just under 1 million.

The school management seem to have found ways to absorb this first reduction by making cuts in various areas including deletion of proposed complementary courses such as theatre and music in second and third secondary from September 2011.

Unfortunately, the European Commission is now insisting that the schools also pick up the unbudgeted cost of the recent European Court ruling granting European Commission employees, which include teaching and other staff employed at the schools, fully indexed staff salary increases, backdated to 2009. As salary expenses make up 91\% of expenditure this presents a significant extra cost of an additional 1 million for 2011. The school has recalculated the 2011 budget for the third time making further cuts across all areas. These cuts will be severely felt as of autumn 2011 given that teaching costs for the first half of 2011 are already fixed.

The Commission is also holding the budgets flat for 2012 despite automatically increasing salary costs and the impact of inflation. The schools budget for that year is therefore also being reduced by 2 million..

The Parent's Association understand that the schools cannot be immune from budgetary constraints in the current adverse economic environment. However, it is simply impossible for our school to accommodate this extra cost within its budget without serious consequences for the education of our children , including undermining of education in their mother tongue, which should be a basic principle of the European schools just as it is an unquestioned principle of national education systems

What could it mean for your children?

The school is seeking to make cost savings in a variety of areas, including utility costs and infrastructure, but predominantly by :

- adhering strictly to the minimum pupil numbers for the creation of classes, i.e. no new classes with less than 5 pupils for optional courses or 7 pupils for core subjects. This may mean the deletion of many derogations for smaller groups, especially in relation to subjects that are not core educational options. Children affected by these cuts will either not be able to take these subjects at all or will be obliged to take them in another language and will find themselves at BAC level in direct competition with native and near-native speakers;

- cutting complementary course choices, such as music and theatre;

- imposing a moratorium on all new material purchases whether related to ITC, educational material, library, etc.

The school has promised to defend costs related to pupils' safety and security expenses, core educational options and, as far as possible, SEN (Special Educational Need) provisions.


What is the Parents' Association perspective and what is it doing?

- The General Assembly mandated the board of the Parents' Association to oppose any budget cuts. The Parents' Association has made this position clear to European Commission representatives (the budget holders) and to the Secretary General of the European School system, who is responsible for allocating the cuts.

- The Parents' Association specifically oppose the request for schools to absorb the backdated pay increase.. This cost shold have been provisioned for by the Commission within the Schools budget, as has happened elsewhere. The schools must not be forced to pick this cost up due to the failure to adhere to proper financial management by the Commission.

- The Parents' Association strongly demand that teaching quality and the provision of mother tongue teaching in the core curriculum (i.e. BAC related subjects) is defended.

- We are working closely with Mr Galvin and the school management team on these issues as the debate progresses.

- We are working with the Parents Associations of the other Brussels schools on a united campaign to oppose the cuts, which includes writing to an lobbying the senior decision makers in the Commission and Parliament.

- We will continue to pressurise all decision-making bodies in an attempt to have the cuts repealed or renegotiated.

- The Parent's Association is calling upon it members to mobilise in support of its actions by contacting National Representatives on the Board of Governors, National Inspectors and any contacts they might have who would be in a position to exert pressure upon the decision-making bodies.

What can I do as parent?

A single voice means more than you think. Make yourself heard. If we all shout at the same time, they will have to listen. Negotiations are continuing on the new budget so now is the time to make your voice heard !

We have prepared an online petition, which you can sign with or without a comment.

Do it now.

Once again, we encourage you to use any of your contacts who you think might have a direct or indirect influence in this matter.


What are the next steps?

Discussions on the new budget will continue with the Budget Committee due to meet in mid-March. This committee will deliver its proposals to the Board of Governors (supreme body of the European School system) in April 2011. The Secretariat for the European School system now needs to prepare a revised budget for the whole European School system taking into account the points made by our school, our Parents' Association and those of the other schools.

We will continue to inform you as the situation develops.

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Della HullBy:
Business and CompaniesIn:
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Parents, Students and Staff of EEB2

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