School board to run $1.8 million deficit

BROCKVILLE – Trustees of the Upper Canada District School Board passed their 2018-19 budget with an operating deficit of 1.8-million dollars.

The budget includes $370.4 million in operating expenses and $44.8 million in capital expenses. Revenue comes from Ministry of Education base funding per student, plus grants and funding through different Ministry initiatives. Total revenue to the school board is $372.8 million.

“I am very proud of the work of Trustees and senior staff in bringing together a Ministry compliant budget during what is always a very challenging process,” said Jeff McMillan, UCDSB board chair. “What has resulted is a budget that responsibly addresses today’s fiscal realities.”

The Ministry of Education allows for school boards to operate at a deficit that is within one per cent of its operating allocation. The UCDSB’s allocation is $330.8 million, which allows the board to run a deficit up to $3.3 million. In order to stay within ministry compliance for the deficit, staff made several reductions. This included deferring technical upgrades during the 2018-19 school year; reducing labour costs through attrition, and deferring increases to budgets for direction, professional development, and community partnerships.

The board projects a net enrollment increase of 146 students in the 2018-19 school year. This includes 297 elementary school students. Projected decreases include 10 less in secondary schools and 141 students in 21 year old or older secondary school students, continuing education or adult learning.

Projected budget revenues for the school year will increase by $11.4 million while operating expenses will increase by $13.8 million or 3.1 per cent. Expenses increase $13.8 million or 3.9 per cent.

The board has $44.8 million in planned capital expenses for the school year including $11.9 million for school condition improvement and $8.2 million for school renewal. The budget also has an 11.5 per cent decrease in funding for creating spaces at UCDSB facilities for community hub creation.

While the budget was passed by an 8-1 vote, Dundas County trustee Jeremy Armer voted against the budget.

“I was really disappointed,” Armer told The Leader. “We worked for three years to have balanced budgets, now we are setting the board up for failure.”

Armer said that trustees and administration have an obligation to spend the money given wisely.

“We have a highly skilled team, there is no reason for this to happen. That’s why I cannot stand behind that budget.”