Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Upper Canada District School Board passes $447 million budget

Photo via Google

It took about 45 minutes to present the budget to Upper Canada District School Board trustees and only 15 minutes to approve it. The hour-long process resulted in the UCDSB passing a $447 million budget, which includes over $52 million in capital projects for the 2024-25 school year. 

Seeing a projected 1.1 per cent increase in enrolment over the current school year, the board received additional funding via the new funding formula from the Ministry of Education. UCDSB officials estimate that over 28,200 students will attend one of the 77 schools in the board next year, 68 per cent of which attend elementary schools. 

Funding from the province increased by 7.1 per cent. Additionally, funding for the settlement of contracts due to Bill 124 being rescinded by the province was already taken care of. However there still are arbitration talks with multiple unions underway. Those are the result of provincial union contracts that have local bargaining unit components. 

The budget includes no program or service cuts and was passed with zero changes by trustees.

The approved balanced budget has a compliance surplus of about $400,000, and the board will carry a $29.9 million accumulated surplus – one-third of which is internally allocated. 

Trustee John McAllister asked during the brief discussion period, if the accumulated surplus can be drawn on if needed. He alluded to potential issues with transportation where funding after 2027-28 is unclear and faces a significant dropoff. 

Executive Superintendent of Business Services Jeremy Hobbs explained that the surplus could be drawn on in a school year, but for compliance with provincial regulations, the board could not run a longer term deficit. 

Capital work in the 2024-25 budget includes HVAC upgrades and equipment replacement at Seaway District High School in Iroquois, and at Centennial 67 Public School in Spencerville. 

Most of the capital budget will go to school repair and improving school conditions – only $1.4 million is earmarked for new school construction, split equally between the new Swift Waters Elementary School in Brockville that opens in September, and the still unbuilt new central secondary school for Cornwall. 

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