Halton District School Board (HDSB) trustees recently approved the board’s 2019-20 operating and capital budgets. However, the operating budget for the next school year is almost $10 million lower than the 2018-19 budget.
According to a recent media release, the approved 2019-20 operating budget is $754,956,645, while the capital budget totals $64,005,723. However, as mentioned in the release, the approved operating budget is $8.3 million lower than the 2018-19 budget.
Challenges were presented in the budget process as a result of a significant reduction in funding, heightened by, according to the release, an increase in operational pressures, increased demand in resources to support student achievement, Ministry of Education redistribution of the Special Education funding, and a per-pupil level of funding that is below the provincial average.
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“Currently, the HDSB is facing a $22 million reduction in funding due to recent changes announced by the Ministry of Education,” reads the release. “As a result of these challenges, there have been reductions in all areas of the budget. The HDSB reduced 189 positions across all employee groups, and an additional $6 million across various departmental budgets, transportation, temporary accommodations, school budgets, technology in schools, and professional development.”
With that being said, the board has approved a deficit budget of $2,508,147, as a result of shortfalls in funding. And there is a recovery plan to address the deficit within two years.
But the reduction is still expected to raise issues during the next school year.
“Reduction to funding, staffing positions and other budgets will pose challenges in the coming year,” says Roxana Negoi, Superintendent of Business Services. “Teacher librarian positions have been reduced along with technology support to schools.”
To top it off, as noted in a previous inhalton article, enrolment within the HDSB is expected to increase during the next school year
“In the 2019-2020 school year, the HDSB will welcome 65,454 students in 87 elementary schools and 17 secondary schools,” notes the release. “This enrolment projection results in an overall increase of 1.3 per cent compared to the current 2018-2019 school year.”
And although enrolment is expected to increase, Stuart Miller, Director of Education for the HDSB, said that the number of classes available to students has been reduced.
“Despite increased enrolment, there has been a reduction of more than 800 classes available to secondary students,” Miller said in a statement. “This will result in higher secondary class sizes and possible cancellation of some compulsory and elective classes.”
But regardless, the 2019-20 HDSB operating and capital budgets were developed with the vision that students will continue to explore and enhance their potential, passions, and strengths to thrive as contributing global citizens.
“I have every confidence in the professionalism and expertise of our staff,” Miller said in a statement. “Our staff will always do what is required to support students the best that they can.”