UCDSB approves $424 million budget

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
UCDSB approves $424 million budget

BROCKVILLE – Trustees at the Upper Canada District School Board approved its $424.2 million budget for the 2023-24 school year on May 24.

The budget, which is 5.26 per cent higher than the 2022-23 school year, is essentially balanced, with a $200,000 surplus forecast. School boards are not allowed to run structural deficits, nor borrow money for operations.

Most of the budget funding comes from the Ministry of Education’s Grants for Student Needs program, which provides per-pupil yearly funding.

Special education will see a 7.4 per cent spending increase in the next year, largely due to the board’s full-year launch of its Power Up 2 program. Over 12 per cent of the board’s total budget is spent on Special Education.

Capital projects see an 11 per cent decrease from last year, which is partly attributed to the construction projects for the new Kindergarten to Grade 6 school in Brockville, and the expansion of Williamstown Public School. No list of capital projects has been released yet. However the board has $58 million earmarked for this. The board has not found a site yet for its Grade 7-12 replacement secondary school in Cornwall, which was approved in 2017.

Other spending for the board includes $4.1 million for Indigenous Education, $1.5 million for math recovery support of students, $1.2 million in literacy spending, and $1.2 million for mental health and well-being support. The math and literacy spending is at the direction of the Ministry of Education with curriculum changes and to support students who studied during the COVID-19 related school closures.

Spending on new technology such as computers and shop equipment remains unchanged at $1.6 million for the next school year.

The board has allocated $2.1 million for what it calls “Real-World Learning,” its Specialist High Skills Major program, and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The budget does not include any provisions for the impact of union contracts still to be negotiated. Teachers with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario have been without a contract since August 2022. In past years, the province will provide labour-based top-up funding to school boards based on negotiated labour agreements.

The budget is awaiting final Ministry of Education approval.

This article was originally written for the Morrisburg Leader.

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