ATA News

The ATA’s budget is in teachers’ hands


Question: I’m an ARA delegate and am being told of changes to the budget and some planned initiatives that are different from what I was given in February, after the local presidents’ meeting. Why the changes and why so late?

Answer: Well, first of all, congratulations on being a local representative to the Association’s Annual Representative Assembly (ARA)! I look forward to spending the May long weekend with you and about 450 of our closest friends.

You are quite right, the final draft budget that will be presented and debated at ARA will be different from what was distributed to delegates earlier this year. The final version, published as the 2024/25 Proposed Budget, has been distributed in print to ARA delegates and is now posted on the ARA share site. This version differs in some respects from the first draft — while minor corrections have been made to various lines, the major differences between the draft and the final version are highlighted in the companion documents Pre-ARA Budget Update, and A New Day for Diversity

That these changes are being made and communicated in this time frame is both normal and healthy. The final version of the proposed budget almost always differs from the February draft because in the intervening months we come into possession of more information and new insights. 

In some cases, changes in government policy or funding will affect Association programming plans and budget. An example is the indication that funding for teacher exchanges will be forthcoming from the provincial government, which allows us to remove from the final budget a proposal to fund a new teacher exchange program.

Similarly, additional information about membership count trends has allowed Provincial Executive Council to be more confident in increasing the anticipated revenue from dues. This has a direct impact on fees.

The responses we received from the budget survey submitted by locals also informed changes by providing an indication of which budget items were clearly supported, which were controversial and which simply lacked support. Comments in the budget survey also illustrated where efforts to provide an explanation for certain budget items were inadequate or failed to accurately convey important information. For example, the original budget made provision for the hiring of an “event planner.” Some members questioned the need for the position and its cost on the basis of their understanding of what an event planner did. In response to that initial communications failure, the position was renamed “event and conference facilitator” in the final budget proposal to better capture the nature of the work, which includes negotiating and managing increasingly complex booking processes for facilities and speakers at Association events and also for subgroups, particularly specialist councils. It was also communicated that there were substantial savings that might be realized by the person in this role that would offset the cost of the position.

Finally, some of the proposals that appeared in the February draft have been undergoing continuing development and were only finalized in recent weeks. For example, in anticipation of launching a diversity initiative, a proposal to create diversity and equity networks was built into the first draft of the budget. 

As well, given the consistent increase in the demands placed on the Professional Development program area over the course of many years, a proposal for an additional executive staff position was budgeted. However, in March, Council approved a series of diversity initiatives that expand on the already budgeted Diversity Equity Networks, making the need for the additional staff officer even more acute. This necessitated changes to the budget proposal that are highlighted in the additional material sent to delegates.

Developing the Association budget is a nine-month process that culminates on the Victoria Day weekend. The continuing evolution of the final budget proposal is a necessary and responsive part of that process. We try to facilitate the engagement of ARA delegates in the budget debate by providing as much information and context as we can. 

At the end of the day (quite literally, in the case of ARA) it is the teacher representatives gathered in the assembly who will ultimately determine the program and budget of their Association for the year ahead. The decision is in your hands and those of your colleagues. ❚

Questions for consideration in this ­column are welcome. Please address them to Dennis Theobald at

Dennis Theobald
Dennis Theobald

ATA Executive Secretary