GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) has passed the 2019-20 school year budget.
The budget is compliant with ministry requirements.
Trustees approved an operating budget of $402,381,432.
The 2019-20 capital budget was approved at $47,998,812.
The board also approved the use of $3,883,541 from accumulated surplus to balance the operating budget.
On March 15 the Ministry of Education announced several changes that affected school board funding and staffing.
The province released the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) memo in late April and the technical paper and grant calculation documents in May.
At this time, the province has not yet fully released board allocations for the Priorities and Partnerships Fund (PPF), which replaces the Education Program – Other (EPO) grants.
The province implemented class size changes for Grades 4 to 8 and secondary classes, which will lower funding.
In addition, the secondary programming amount that was previously part of the Pupil Foundation Grant has been eliminated and Early Childhood Educator (ECE) funding has also been reduced.
The ministry is introducing a new Attrition Protection Allocation for up to four years that will support school boards phasing in the new class sizes.
Local Priorities Funding, first established in 2017-18 during the last round of collective bargaining, expires on Aug. 31. Whether the funding for staffing is extended is an issue that is subject to the upcoming central collective bargaining process.
GSN funding will be reduced by $1,300 per International Student recorded by the school board.
The ministry is increasing its provincial commitment to support professional staff at the board level who have expertise in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and to provide training opportunities that will build school board capacity in ABA.
The Student Transportation Grant will be increased by four per cent and the ministry will provide additional transportation funding supports to school boards that run efficient transportation operations but for which the costs of student transportation exceed the funding provided for that purpose. Benchmarks have been increased to reflect collective agreements and the non-staff portion of the School Operations Allocation has been increased by 2%.
The ministry will impose cash flow constraints on boards that do not comply with full day kindergarten and primary class size requirements.
The ministry requires that boards submit a balanced budget or a budget where the deficit does not exceed the lesser of accumulated surplus or 1% of operating allocations.
If a school board has a deficit, they must submit a deficit reduction plan that brings the school board to a balanced budget within two years. The ministry also provides limitations on how expenditures are allocated.
In the Upper Grand DSB
The UGDSB’s 2019-20 Grants for Student Needs (GSN) are $2.2 million lower than 2018-19 budget.
Although enrolment changes and benchmark increases have an impact on GSN amounts, the bulk of the changes are a result of provincial funding formula changes.
Local Priorities Funding expires on Aug. 31 and amounts to a loss of $3.7 million locally.
The Pupil Foundation Grant has decreased by $10.8 million due to changes in class sizes for secondary and Grades 4 to 8, the elimination of secondary programming funding, and adjustments to ECE funding.
The changes in class size also had an impact on the Cost Adjustment and Teacher Q and E funding (-$3.4 million). These changes are partially offset by Attrition Protection Funding that provides top-up funding to support the transition to the new funded class sizes.
The ministry’s International Student Recovery Amount reduces UGDSB funding by an additional $390,000.
Transportation Funding has increased by $2.6 million. Other changes include a $240,000 increase in Special Education funding to support ABA.
For the first time, the UGDSB budget will run a deficit (-$3.88M). The board will have two years to make further reductions in order to bring the budget back to balance.
The 2019-20 budget contains reductions across a number of areas, including staff positions, school budgets, information technology and professional development.
The UGDSB enrolment projections for 2019-20 indicate growth in the elementary panel and a decline in the secondary panel. Elementary staffing increases by 2.2 full time teachers and there is a decrease of 24.5 full time teachers in secondary, primarily due to funding reductions and declining enrolment.
The budget maintains support for students to the extent possible given the funding reductions.
The budget was developed according to the board’s Guiding Principles for Budget, focusing the allocation of human and financial resources on the success and well-being of every child, with an emphasis on the Board Improvement Plan for Student Needs, high quality teaching and strong leadership in all areas of the organization.
The board has added 23 full time special education assistants in order to meet the increasing demand to provide support to students with special needs.
The budget has been maintained for ECEs, library and guidance staff, and professionals and paraprofessionals.
The student success budget will continue to fund small projects that are innovative in nature and there is an increase in equity of access funding, which assists children who cannot afford to participate in programs or activities.