Archive for June, 2011


I write this rant without prejudice and with some emotion. And my title is slightly deceptive to pique your interest.

I was watching the news last night with my mouth agape. The Right Honorable (uh huh) Education Minister Dave Hancock was on the news a week ago and was visiting a school. He mentioned to the children that the school was going to be fixed.

The story then led to the topic of older schools being renovated and several new schools being built. I can’t wait to see these schools full of children without teachers. And thus, I have come to the point of my rant.

For some background to this, the Edmonton Public School Board announced last week that 229 teaching and 115 non-teaching positions will have to be cut in response to a $14-million shortfall. The Calgary Public School Board is cutting 172 teaching and support positions to eliminate a $62 million deficit.

Do you want to know what the Province is spending to refurbish these schools? Try $550 million dollars!! Are you fucking serious?!? True. This is out of the provincial budget, and the teacher’s issues are city issues….. BUT SO WHAT!?!? How about you use your brains and re-focus the money and stop the waste?

We are talking about people. We are talking about happiness. We are talking about human beings living their lives, busting their asses on a daily basis trying to make a living and keep food on their family’s plates and roofs over their family’s heads.

My Solution:-
$550,000,000 – $62,000,000 – $14,000,000 = $474,000,000. Let’s say there will be some surrounding areas that have lost jobs as well. Take another $30,000,000 out for that. This leaves $444,000,000. Now, bust out the budget and breakout every line and trim the fat!

I really wrote this to bring awareness to the unbelievable waste of spending.

Don’t get me started on the ridiculous waste of money the $2,000,000,000 for carbon capture and storage. JEEBUS!!!

P.S. There is some information on the Government’s website about some infrastructure planning for schools. See below. I add up the figures given as examples and this is what I get….

http://www.education.alberta.ca/department/ipr/capitalplanning/capital-funding.aspx

$304,000.00 (where is the other $487,000,000???) Come on man! Where can the breakout of numbers be found so we can audit the spending? These are my hard earned tax dollars.
Infrastructure Maintenance and Renewal (IMR) Spending
The IMR program funds renovations and/or upgrades to a facility. A school jurisdiction’s first priority is to ensure that health, safety and essential upgrading needs, including emergent projects, are met.
Over the last four years government has invested $488 million in the IMR program.
A few examples of how school jurisdictions direct these funds include:
$75,000 – Don Bosco elementary school – complete floor replacement
$43,000 – Saint Thomas More elementary school – window replacement
$79,000 – Senator Buchanan elementary school – electrical upgrade
$30,000 – Donalda school – air ventilation upgrade
$2,000 – Stettler school – boiler repairs
$75,000 – Byemoor school – shingle replacement

References:-

June 21, 2011
Edmonton public students to benefit from improved schools

Edmonton… Students at two Edmonton schools will benefit as a result of an investment in local school infrastructure. Both Strathcona Composite High School and Forest Heights School will undergo modernizations.

“Education is fundamental to the future of our communities and our province,” said Education Minister Dave Hancock. “We’re committed to not only building new schools in fast-growing communities, but ensuring established communities also have safe, caring, respectful and modern learning environments.”
Strathcona Composite High School will receive upgrades to the gymnasium and art wing, and electrical and plumbing systems. Forest Heights School will be reconfigured to add additional and more functional classroom space, and the electrical and plumbing systems will receive major upgrades.
These new infrastructure dollars are part of an ongoing provincial investment in school infrastructure. This new funding is being distributed for top school infrastructure priorities and to ensure dollars are directed to critical areas.
A total of 35 schools across Alberta will be built or modernized at an estimated cost of $550 million to cope with a student population expected to soar by about 100,000 new pupils before the end of the decade. This is in addition to the Alberta Schools Alternative Procurement (ASAP) project phase two which includes 10 new schools in Okotoks, Langdon, Calgary and Edmonton, opening September 2012. Four new high schools will also open in Edmonton, Calgary, Spruce Grove and Sherwood Park in 2013.
“We’re delivering and modernizing these schools so that they are high quality, bright facilities and welcoming to students and staff,” said Infrastructure Minister Ray Danyluk. “The schools will be equipped with the latest technology and designed to adapt to changing educational needs. These will be buildings that work – for students, for teachers and for the entire community.”
Projects will be delivered through a combination of public-private partnerships and regional bundles. This approach allows projects to be completed faster than would otherwise be possible, while taking full advantage of core school designs, economies of scale and private-sector innovations.
The Alberta government is working to build a better Alberta by fostering economic growth, strengthening our health and education systems, investing in infrastructure, supporting safe and strong communities and ensuring a clean and healthy environment. Details of these and other school infrastructure projects can be found on the Alberta Education website at http://www.education.alberta.ca.
May 24, 2011
New, improved schools to cope with soaring student numbers
Initiative will see 35 schools built or renovated to cope with growth
Edmonton… A total of 35 schools across Alberta will be built or modernized at an estimated cost of $550 million to cope with a student population expected to soar by about 100,000 new pupils before the end of the decade, Premier Ed Stelmach announced May 24.
“This is part of a government investment to address growing student enrolments in some of the fastest growing communities in Alberta and responds to concerns we’ve been hearing for some time,” said Stelmach. “Our students are the future leaders of our province and deserve positive learning environments.”
Education Minister Dave Hancock estimates Alberta’s student population in 2020 will be about 700,000 students compared to the current 600,000 students.
“Education is fundamental to the future of our communities and our province. With this investment, we are ensuring that our students have safe, caring, respectful and modern learning environments,” said Education Minister Dave Hancock. “It is important that we continue to build positive atmospheres for learning which helps every child succeed and realize their potential.”
The plan, unveiled by the Premier, Hancock and Ray Danyluk, Minister of Infrastructure, calls for:
• Construction of 22 new and replacement schools in Alberta’s fastest-growing communities including Airdrie, Beaumont and Fort McMurray.
• Modernization of 13 existing schools to handle growth pressures and to upgrade infrastructure such as heating, plumbing and electrical systems, remove barriers to access and provide appropriate facilities for specialized subjects such as science, art and Career and Technology Studies.
“Alberta Infrastructure will deliver high quality schools that are bright, welcoming spaces, equipped with the latest technology and designed to adapt to changing educational needs,” said Danyluk. “These will be buildings that work – for students, for teachers and for the entire community. We will move forward on these projects immediately and our goal is to open doors for students by 2014.”
Projects will be delivered through a combination of public-private partnerships and regional bundles. This approach allows projects to be completed faster than would otherwise be possible, while taking full advantage of core school designs, economies of scale and private-sector innovations.
The Alberta government is working to build a better Alberta by fostering economic growth, strengthening our health and education systems, investing in infrastructure, supporting safe and strong communities and ensuring a clean and healthy environment.
http://alberta.ca/acn/201102/2995902%20BudgetSummarybyMinistry_Budget2011%20-%20Final.pdf

Education
Budgeted program expense is nearly $6.2 billion in 2011-12, a net $164-million or 2.7-per-cent increase from the 2010-11 forecast. Operating expense increases by $251 million or 4.5 per cent, while support for school capital projects is $87 million lower in 2011-12.
Over $5.7 billion in operating and property tax support to school boards will be provided in 2011-12.
School boards will receive funding for the anticipated 4.4-per-cent increase in teachers’ salaries effective September 1, 2011, based on the forecast increase in Alberta’s Average Weekly Earnings Index for 2010. Funding is also provided for a 1.1-per-cent increase in general enrolment. There are increases for supports to students with severe disabilities and student transportation services. Selected grants are eliminated over the next two school years, including relative cost of purchasing and stabilization. Also, ongoing funding for the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement will be reduced by 50 per cent beginning with the 2011-12 school year.
School board operating grants in 2011-12 include:
• $468 million for plant operations and maintenance of school facilities.
• $299 million for current service payments for teachers’ pensions.
• $282 million to support students with severe disabilities.
• $260 million for student transportation services.
• $228 million for the Small Class Size Initiative.

2011-12 program expense also includes $288 million for school capital projects. There is nearly $702 million over three years budgeted in school capital support. This will provide:
• $411 million for new schools and upgrading projects; and
• $291 million for capital maintenance and renewal.

Calgary education board cutting staff again
http://www.teachers.ab.ca/News%20Room/WebExtras/Expiring%20Education/Pages/Calgary-Board-of-Education.aspx
“The Calgary Board of Education has been forced to make deep staffing cuts for the second consecutive year to make up for a funding shortfall by the province. …
The Calgary board will save $24.9 million with the cuts, which largely affect support staff including psychologists, learning ­specialists, speech therapists and other employees, many of whom work with students with special needs.
Teaching positions will also be lost as 60 of the layoffs come from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement, which was cut in half by the province. Some of the senior staff working under that program will be returned to the classroom dislodging younger teachers.
‘Our youngest teachers will be the ones to go first because last in first out is the way that works,’ said board chairwoman Pat Cochrane.
Another $24.8 million will still need to be found in Calgary, about $100,000 per school.”
—Sean Myers, Calgary Herald, March 23, 2011

BUDGET: http://www.education.alberta.ca/department/budget.aspx#Initiatives

budgetbreakdownpiechart

Public school budget confirms teacher cuts
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2010/06/15/calgary-school-board-budget-deficit-cbe-teachers-cuts.html
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 7:32 PM MT
Trustees with the Calgary Board of Education have approved an operating budget with a $10 million deficit and job cuts.
The financial plan for 2010-11 confirms the loss of 192 full-time teaching and 85 support positions this fall.
After factoring in retirements and resignations, the jobs of 169 probationary teachers — who are in their first year of the profession — are in limbo. Board chair Pat Cochrane said final numbers won’t be clear until closer to September.
The financial crunch comes after a freeze on provincial funding and a negotiated wage raise for teachers.
The board is using up its reserve fund of $19.1 million to help cover the $1 billion operating budget for the upcoming school year, but that still leaves the public school system with a $10 million deficit. And the tally is expected to grow.
“It will move to at least $35 million in 2011-12. I think that’s a certainty,” said the board’s director of finance, Wayne Braun.

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For those of you wanting / going to start this trilogy, there are a few things that will help while reading.

– 1 Swedish Krona (SKr) = $0.16 in 2011 Canadian Dollars (in 2003, when this novel takes place, the value was $0.18)

– The names of the towns will become common and if you sound them out you will smile.

– The ö makes the sound of ‘err’, with a somewhat silent r.  The letter O with Umlaut appears in the German alphabet and Swedish alphabet. It represents the umlauted form of o, resulting in [œ] or [ø]. The letter is collated together with O in the German alphabet, but located in the end of the Swedish one. The letter also occurs in some languages that have adopted German names or spellings, but is not a part of these languages’ alphabets.  In other languages that do not have the letter as part of the regular alphabet or in limited character sets such as ASCII, O-umlaut is frequently replaced with the two-letter combination “oe”.

– You’re thinking….when will the Sedin twins appear. 

Book 1: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

 

I rate this book as 10/10. 

Fantastic writing.  Fantastic action.  It goes in a lot of depth and the characters are developed so nicely and clearly and in such tremendous detail you actually feel like you miss them when you stop reading.  To be honest with you, this was my first trilogy and my first crime novel.  Normally, I like non-fiction, biography-type books.  I am into crime novels big-time!! 

I won’t talk about the story too much.  You MUST read these and you will see.  However, to whet your appetite for a tremendous novel, the story is based around two characters – Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  She is an eccentric, misunderstood, smart young woman who just wants to be left alone.  Blomkvist is a magazine reporter and publisher.  He is middle aged, smart, passionate and once interested in a story, never stops until all the facts are unveiled. 

Blomkvist is hired to write a life story of one of Sweden’s largest industrial families.  This is a guise.  His real job is to solve a cold case of 40 years.  Salander is hired as an investigator and researcher.  They both get tangled in some deep shit.  Guns, smoking tires, sex, murder, torture, golf clubs are all involved in the story.  And that is just part of it.  You get to learn the strange idiosyncrasies of life in Sweden.  Apparently, Swedes love sandwiches made from cream cheese and marmalade and coffee at all hours. 

I highly recommend this book.  It’s just so good.  In December, an English movie will be out in theatres starring Daniel Craig as Blomkvist.  READ THIS BOOK BEFORE XMAS 2011!!!

Book 2: The Girl Who Played With Fire

 

I rate this book at a shocking 10/10!! 

Once again, Stieg Larsson has done it again.  I am so into Scandinavian crime novels.  And I am so into the lives of these characters. 

Here is a quick synopsis to draw you in….  Salander is accused of two brutal murders! What!!!   Oh, wait!  A third!!  Blomkvist is on the case to get to the bottom of the crimes!  Did she do it?  Did the lesbian, Satanists do it?  Sweden’s National Security is at risk too!!  What happens?  Read and find out.

No Sedins here!!

Book 3: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

 

I rate this book at 9.8/10.  I rate this book slightly less than the other two.  I do this just because of a few minor details in the middle of the book.  Firstly, Lisbeth isn’t mentioned as much as the first two – although the trilogy revolves around her.  Secondly, there are so many new characters introduced, it is quite complicated as the plot twists like a delicious bowl of vermicelli from Phobulous.       

The story and writing is still as great as the rest of the work in this trilogy.  You definitely cheer for the stars and want the scumbags to pay.

I await the 4th book.

The 4th book http://www.stieglarsson.com/the-4th-book

The below is taken from the web. The status of the 4th book is currently unknown.

When Stieg started writing the Millennium series, he laid an outline of a total of ten books. Before his death in November 2004, he had finished the first three books and was well underway with the fourth. In an email written to a friend a month before his death, Stieg says that he has finished about half of the fourth book. Stieg says that he has written the beginning and the end, but that the middle part is not finished yet.

Many readers have asked if Eva Gabrielsson, Stieg’s life companion, could finish the fourth book, as she was deeply involved in the writing while Stieg was still alive. Eva herself is very positive, however, Swedish jurisdiction obstructs such a solution.

 

Stieg & Moi

The book “Stieg & Moi”, written by Eva Gabrielsson and Marie Francois Colombani comes out the 19 Jan 2011. The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet has read a rawcopy of the book and can reveal several interesting scoops.

Eva says in the book that she could finish the fourth manuscript but is, as of this moment unable to due to the legal dispute between her and Stieg Larsson’s father and brother. The Swedish title of the fourh book is also told, and is said to be “Guds hämd” (english translation: God’s revenge).

Aftonbladet has earlier published the news that the fourth book would take place in Canada, about 75 miles (120km) north of Sauchs Harbour on Banks Island. It is also told that the fourth script would mainly focus on Lisbet Salander, and how her personality changes when she starts to deal with her conflicts from the past. Her tattoos are explained and you are told that each and everyone represent a person who has hurt her throughout her life, both mentally and physically.