Trustees trim UCDSB budget

BROCKVILLE – Upper Canada District School Board trustees attempted to bring that board’s budget deficit back into compliance at the March 27th regular board meeting in Brockville.

The original budget passed for the 2018-19 school year had the board at a $1.6 million deficit, which was compliant with Ministry of Education guidelines.

That deficit ballooned after the board’s transportation operator, Student Transportation of Eastern Ontario, was on the losing end of an arbitration ruling in favour of bus contractors.

The board tasked staff with looking at low, medium, and high impact cuts to bring the budget deficit back in line at an earlier meeting.

Richard Onley, senior business consultant for the board presented two out of the three items, finding $774,000 in measures, all which were approved by trustees.

Low impact cuts to the board for the remainder of the school year include reducing the District Alignment budget, leaving a position in the business department vacant, cancelling a mid-year purchase of school supplies, and reducing unallocated school supervision (supply teacher) positions.

T.R. Leger school will see a $60,000 decrease in its budget for international education recruitment and school supports. Cuts amounted to over $121,000.

Meanwhile cuts deemed to be “medium impact” include cutting the board’s communications department presence at community events, and deferring information-technology and human resources department projects.

The largest two cuts hit the facilities department ($430,000) and special education ($109,750).

Routine maintenance of school facilities will be “restrained” and filling an administrative position in the facilities department will be deferred.

Meanwhile, unfilled positions in the special education department due to leaves of absences or vacancies will remain unfilled for the remainder of the school year.

Trustees attempted to claw back some of the cuts during the meeting. Board chair John McAllister motioned to keep the communications presence in the budget, while trustee Lisa Swan motioned to remove special education from consideration. Both motions were defeated.

The cuts brought the board closer to being compliant with ministry regulations, with Onley being hopeful that enrollment numbers for the second semester would increase, a measure that would bring in more funding from the province.

UCDSB officials face a significant challenge with the board’s budget being presented soon.

The board will see an average increase to its transportation budget of $6 million per year from the arbitration ruling, and the fall out from adjusting to new class size curriculum set out by the province on March 15th.

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