UCDSB ap­proves bud­get with $1.8 mil­lion deficit for 2018-2019

Seaway News - - News - SHAWNA O’NEILL, SPE­CIAL TO TC ME­DIA

BROCKVILLE, On­tario – On May 23, the Up­per Canada District School Board (UCDSB) ap­proved it’s 2018-2019 bud­get. The bud­get has a deficit of $1.8 mil­lion. The to­tal ex­pense bud­get passed is $415, 200, 000.

“If we don’t even­tu­ally re­place that deficit with a sur­plus, what hap­pens is the min­istry comes in and starts run­ning our schools, and the way we spend money. The free­doms we en­joy, will no longer be there,” said Jeremy Armer, Trus­tee of Ward 7. Armer is an In­vest­ment Ad­vi­sor and the only Trus­tee who voted against the bud­get. He en­cour­ages par­ents to contact their lo­cal Trus­tees and ask why they voted in favour of a deficit bud­get.

The Min­istry re­quires the school board not to ex­ceed the bud­get by one per cent to main­tain com­pli­ance, which in this case would be ap­prox­i­mately $3.6 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to Stephen Sliwa, Di­rec­tor of Ed­u­ca­tion with the UCDSB. Sliwa said that the bud­get is re­lated to a fund­ing for­mula pro­vided by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“I know that in the last five years, since 2013, the board has had a range of bud­get out­comes— from bal­anced bud­gets, to sur­plus bud­gets, to on oc­ca­sion a deficit bud­get,” Sliwa.

Dur­ing the meet­ing it was stated that 83 per cent of the bud­get is a fixed cost around labour. Three pres­sure points of the re­main­ing 17 per cent were men­tioned: Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion, stu­dent trans­porta­tion and ab­sent staff re­place­ment costs. Sliwa said that a Deficit Re­duc­tion Plan will soon be cre­ated by staff and pre­sented to Trus­tees for their ap­proval.

Trus­tees ques­tioned if school pro­gram­ming will be af­fected by the bud­get dur­ing the meet­ing.

“I know they can find $1.5, or even $2 mil­lion in bud­get cuts where it wouldn’t af­fect pro­gram­ming,” said Armer. “To do that to the next board com­ing in, I was re­ally dis­ap­pointed. We owe it to the pub­lic to have a bal­anced bud­get. We should be able to de­liver our pro­gram­ming within the money that we’ve been given. If not, I don’t want to be a part of this board. It’s em­bar­rass­ing.”

Sliwa feels that whether elected of­fi­cials are ex­pe­ri­enced or new, there won’t be any is­sues with them han­dling the deficit bud­get.

“I truly hope that Board staff have taken into con­sid­er­a­tion the many stu­dents in this area who will opt to at­tend the co-ter­mi­nus board now that they can start it right af­ter Grade 6 at St. Joseph’s,” said Jen­nifer Macisaac, a par­ent with a child in the UCDSB. “That be­ing said, com­pet­ing for stu­dents has never been top of mind for this Board. Per­haps many Trus­tees don’t plan on run­ning in the next elec­tion and aren’t con­cerned about what sort of bud­get con­straints they are leav­ing for the next Board who will be elected this fall.”

“We are com­pli­ant with the min­istry, as we are be­ing told by our fi­nance peo­ple,” said Caroll Carkner, Trus­tee of Ward 10 dur­ing the meet­ing. “See­ing those mi­nus num­bers don’t scare me quite as much when we’re com­pli­ant. We can only hope and pray that we have in­creased en­rol­ment, so our bud­get will in­crease when­ever we find the kids in the seats in Septem­ber.”

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