College Council Election to Be Conducted Electronically | Call for Nominations | New Council Members | Interest Grows for Teacher Job Fair | Bernard Adam Apppointed Chair of Discipline Committee | College Issues First Professional Advisory | Credentials Checking Process Helps Protect Profession's Integrity | Providers' Area Up and Running | Individual Learning Options Broaden PLP Credit Possibilities | Teach Ontario Site Makes Finding and Filling Teaching Jobs Easier | Teachers Holding Permanent Letters of Standing Urged to Join the College | 2003 Budget Approved with Fee Increase Offsets PLP Costs | Dispute Resolution Program Reports | Discipline Panel Decisions

2003 Budget Approved with Fee Increase Offsets PLP Costs

AT its September 27 meeting, Council approved a 2003 College budget-including a $35 increase in annual membership fees to offset the costs of the Professional Learning Program (PLP).
Incorporating the annual expected costs of the PLP for the first time resulted in an increase to the College's overall budget compared to the previous year.

Invitation to serve on the Professional Learning Committee

Members of the College are invited to submit their names as candidates for the member-at-large positions on the Professional Learning Committee.

The Committee is composed of four College Council members (two elected and two appointed), two members-at-large, and up to five members appointed by the Minister of Education. Members-at-large serve for the three years of the Council term.

The first meeting of the newly constituted Committee will be in May, 2003.

The Committee meets monthly at the College offices in Toronto to approve Professional Learning Program providers and courses, and to consider reviews of providers and courses.

The Nomination Committee of the College Council will make recommendations to the College Council of appointments as members-at-large.

If you are interested in applying for one of the member-at-large positions, please send a copy of your resumé including your College registration number and a one-page description of your experience in professional development by March 31, 2003.

The information may be e-mailed, mailed or faxed to:

Charlie Morrison
Manager, Policy and Research
121 Bloor Street East, 6th Floor
Toronto ON M4W 3M5
Fax: 416-961-8822

The PLP as designed by the College allows members to choose from a steadily growing range of opportunities for professional growth and career development without reference to employers' interests. College costs to implement and maintain the program involve approving providers and courses, building an infrastructure to support members by providing ongoing information about courses and how to access them, and keeping accurate records of members' progress.

"The College would have shown a small budget surplus-even with the growth in our service to members-had it not been for the costs to implement and operate the rapidly expanding PLP," said College Registrar Joe Atkinson.

In drafting the budget, Finance Committee Chair Solette N. Gelberg said the committee looked for ways to decrease costs without decreasing service or mandated responsibilities. "Operating the Professional Learning Program to maximize the benefits to our members is costly," she said. "To meet this responsibility requires an additional $7 million in 2003 and since the provincial government has so far declined to support the program, this increase became inevitable."

Membership fees will rise to $139 from $104 effective January 1, 2003. Even so, College fees remain among the lowest of the 37 self-regulated professions in Ontario.

Funding Sought
In August, the College Chair and Registrar wrote to Minister of Education Elizabeth Witmer to request $7 million to fund PLP implementation in 2003. The Minister had raised expectations of changes to the PLP by inviting the Ontario Teachers' Federation and its affiliates to provide advice on how the program might be revised, the letter said. However, the Council must "set fees for the legislation as it
currently exists."

In her September 13 response, the Minister said she would study the College's request and that it "raised a number of issues that require careful consideration" including "impacts on the College's decision-making autonomy and management flexibility."

In August 2001, the College presented the Minister of Education with a business plan for the PLP outlining the $8.2 million in one-time, start-up costs and $10.2 million in annual operating costs at maturity. The Ministry provided $8 million for implementation in November 2001.

Balanced Through 2004
The 2003 budget includes forecasted operating expenses of $28,768,000 and capital and deferred charges of $2,075,000. The fee increase enables the College to carry a balanced budget through 2004, but run at a projected deficit in 2005. Council established $139 as the lowest possible membership fee required to meet its mandated responsibilities. However, it means that College reserves are running low and would be able to cover less than two months of College operations.

Atkinson said the annual budget recommendation to College Council involved a thorough review and justification for every initiative. For the 2003 budget, department co-ordinators and managers analyzed issues and budgets for various deliverables beginning as early as January 2002. Senior staff identified strategic initiatives, pressures and activities as a result of changes to the College's mandate or in anticipation of new regulations or legislation. Twenty initiatives, including an analysis of probable milestones and impacts on College units and stakeholders, were reviewed by senior management, pared, ranked and presented to Council members over three sessions in July. The extensive, pre-budget planning effort enabled College management to provide Council with options to meet a variety of organization and member needs.

Financial Objectives
In setting the final budget, Gelberg said that the Finance Committee followed financial objectives the College set in 1997, namely to:

  • fund services appropriately-to meet legislative requirements and to provide good customer service, adhering to principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness
  • set reasonable fees-keeping membership dues to the lowest possible levels and establishing fees for special services based on full cost recovery, wherever possible
  • accumulate financial resources to ensure stability and independence.

In financial terms, accumulating financial resources of a sufficient size and without reliance on borrowing enables the College to respond to unexpected risks, take advantage of opportunities, and stabilize membership fees when possible.

As passed, the budget reflected reductions recommended by the Finance Committee totalling almost $1.6 million.

For budgeting purposes and to reflect the pattern of annual growth in membership, the budget was based on an anticipated membership of 190,000. College membership for 2002 is forecasted at 187,000. Membership fees and fees derived from other sources-such as registration, evaluation and reinstatement-comprise the College's main revenue sources.

Projected pressures
In pre-budget deliberations, senior staff identified a number of projected pressures that might eventually come to bear on the College's budget. These included anticipated costs associated with implementing the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test, conducting pre- and in-service reviews of education faculties for accreditation; responding to new legislation (e.g. the Student Protection Act) and changes to existing regulations (e.g. Regulation 184/97), and increased investigations and hearings related to criminal record checks and complaints regarding teacher terminations.

Efforts to increase member, stakeholder and employer understanding, and application of College standards will continue through outreach activities and case study workshops.

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Ontario College of Teachers
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