UCDSB passes $353 million budget

 

Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board have passed a $353 million operating budget for next year to support student needs and meet long-term objectives under its CREW Strategic Plan. 

Another $45.8 million has been earmarked for capital projects.

The budget was passed during Wednesday night’s regular Board meeting, said Chair Greg Pietersma.

“The biggest thing this budget does is ensure quality and consistency in our programming and operations,” said Pietersma. “It provides assurance for parents that schools will be open, math and science classes will run, driveways will be cleared, competition will take place on our sports fields and buses will be running.

“We’re also planning for two more quality schools in the Cornwall and Kemptville areas.”

Director David Thomas praised the budget saying it is reflective of good governance by the Board, citing the new Accountability Framework as a key factor in that good governance. 

He also noted changes in the budget reporting process which will see departments keep trustees better informed through the addition of quarterly status reports.

“The development of the Accountability Framework has had a very positive impact on our senior team,” said Thomas. “It has helped us to become more purposeful, focused, responsive and transparent in our operations and that is reflected in this budget.

“The creation of the yearly budget cycle and quarterly reporting process will allow us the opportunity to better serve the students and communities of Eastern Ontario.”

The operating funds the board will use come from the 2014-15 Grants for Student Needs issued by the Ministry of Education. 

 The largest portion of the board’s operating budget is for staff instructional salaries – for teachers, principals, para-professionals and others – comprising about $241 million. 

About $25 million goes to transportation, $34 million for school operations and maintenance, and $8.5 million for administration and governance.

Major capital expenses include: a project to fund construction of, and furnishing and equipping of, two new elementary schools in Cornwall and Kemptville, (scheduled to open in 2016); funding for school renewal; and improvements for the Full-Day Kindergarten program.

“I’m pleased to present a compliant budget that puts students first,” said Superintendent of Business Nancy Barkley. ”As the 2014-2015 school year unfolds, student learning will remain our priority and continue to drive our business decisions.”

“This budget reflects our philosophy that proper support for student learning is at the heart of everything we do,” added Pietersma. “We are funding new school projects, enhancing the instructional skills of our teachers, and funding special education programming – all the kinds of efforts that allow students to learn and thrive.”

Under the budget, Special Education gains $46 million in funding. About $19.4 million has been set aside for special education teachers, along with another $17.7 million for educational assistants and $1.2 million for new technologies to aid student learning.

Other department operating expenses include: Human Resources, $2.9 million; Director’s Office, $4.4 million; Information Technology Services, $5.4 million; Facilities, $90.3 million ($45.8 million for Design and Construction, and $44.5 million for Facilities Operations and Maintenance); and Program, $3.7 million.