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