UGDSB approves 2021-22 budget

GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDB) has passed the 2021-22 school year budget, which included the approval of the use of $4 million from accumulated surplus to balance the budget.

In a June 22 board meeting, trustees approved an operating budget of $426,387,256. The 2021-22 capital budget was also approved at $48,225,205.

In addition, the board approved the use of $4,094,821 from accumulated surplus to assist in balancing the operating budget.

Through the Ontario Ministry of Education’s priorities and partnership funding (PPF), the province is providing additional COVID-19 related funding to support additional staffing in schools, transportation supports, special education and mental health supports, and school operation supports.

The supports include funds for re-engaging students and reading assessment supports. In addition to the PPF amounts, the ministry has also added to the grants for student needs (GSN) technology and mental health funding that was originally introduced in 2020-21.

As per ministry direction, school boards are expected to budget using the first half of the COVID-19 supports funding allocated.

Pending vaccine distribution and public health advice, the ministry will confirm the use of the remaining resources, if needed for the second half of the year, in the fall.

The ministry will impose cash flow constraints on boards that do not comply with full day kindergarten and primary class size requirements.

It also requires that boards submit a balanced budget or a budget where the deficit does not exceed the lesser of accumulated surplus or one per cent of operating allocations.

School boards will find out by the fall whether there will be an allowance to have a deficit up to two per cent due to COVID-19 related expenditures.

The total 2021-22 UGDSB budget includes $409,539,444 in GSN revenue, in addition to $12,752,992 in other revenue sources.

The GSN amount includes adjustments for enrolment and benchmark changes, additional technology and mental health funding.

The amount also includes funding for specialist high skills major programming and after-school skills development (ASSD) programs that were previously funded from PPF.

The board allocations of the PPF reflects an increase of $1.4 million, primarily driven by additional COVID-19 supports, partially offset by the transfer of amounts into the GSN.

Enrolment projections for 2021-22 indicates a slight decrease at the elementary level and growth in the secondary level.

Elementary staffing is increasing by 6.2 full time equivalent (FTE) elementary teachers primarily due to funding related to the pandemic and learning re-engagement supports. There is also an increase in secondary staffing of 8.5 FTE secondary teachers.

Pandemic related funding also supported increases in mental health staff and coordinators and consultants.