COVID-19 responsible for anticipated $14-million deficit in UGDSB budget

GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board is looking at a budget deficit of more than $14 million for the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent of Finance Glen Regier presented the updated budget assumptions at the Nov. 10 business operations meeting.

The baseline budget approved by the board earlier this year reflected an operating budget deficit of $2 million (0.5%). Revenue was expected to be $412.7 million with expenditures of $414.7 million.

However, due to COVID-19, those number have significantly changed, with expenditures now anticipated to reach $430.9 million.

COVID-19 expenditures alone are estimated to reach $16.2 million.

“The key drivers include the additional elementary and secondary teachers hired, increased cost to … transportation and anticipated higher-than-normal supply staff expenditures,” Regier said at the meeting.

The board is receiving about $7.6 million in COVID-19 funding for additional instructional staff, school administrators for remote schools, additional supports for students with special needs, mental health supports, additional custodial staff, transportation and enhanced cleaning of schools and buses.

However, even with the additional funding, the COVID-19 expenditures equate to a $8.6 million deficit.

In addition, the board is forecasting a decline in elementary enrolment of 289 students, which translates to about $3.6 million in lost funding.

In total, the board is looking at a 3.6% ($14 million) budget deficit.

“Trustees will continue to receive updates on any new announcements that will impact funding or also any required changes to expenditures,” Regier said.

“The school board needs to respond as we continue to look and address the pandemic in our system.”

Because the deficit exceeds the Ministry of Education’s allotted 2% for grants for student needs, the board must submit the financial report to the ministry for approval.