Trustees approved the 2020-2021 school year budget at the August 10, 2020, Special Board Meeting.

Trustees received a balanced budget with revenues of $808,639,639M, including a capital budget of $70.4M that meets our legislative requirements.

The Ministry of Education provided a tight timeline of eight weeks to complete the budget process, which is nine weeks shorter than a typical year. Our Financial Services Team worked diligently with all departments to ensure spending trends were analyzed, making adjustments where necessary to ensure financial stability while we work towards achieving our operational goals and opening our schools safely during COVID-19.

QUOTES:

To say that this is not the budget process we had hoped for, would be an understatement. With timelines shorter than ever before, our staff presented a detailed budget to trustees. While we had hoped for more funding from the province to support our reopening plans, our students and staff will have the necessary PPE, cleaning supplies and other protective measures needed to reopen our schools. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to our entire Financial Services Team for preparing one of the most difficult budgets I have ever been part of.

-Jayne Herring, Chairperson of the Waterloo Region District School Board

The ongoing hard work of our Financial Services Team ensures that financially we are well-positioned as an organization and can adapt to budgetary pressures that may come our way. This budget process was unlike anything we have experienced before, with shortened timelines and a global pandemic to plan for. Our staff have planned for a safe reopening of our schools and worksites with the resources we have been allocated by the Ministry of Education. We will have the needed personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and other protective measures in place when our schools reopen. We will remain flexible and responsive to the needs of our students and staff in order to ensure that we allocate additional financial resources during the year. A great deal of thanks is owed to the Board of Trustees for their guidance and ultimately their approval of this budget.

– Matthew Gerard, Superintendent Business Services and Treasurer

Budget Highlights:

COVID-19 Response

As part of the 2020-21 GSN announcement, the Ministry announced $25M in additional funding to cover extraordinary costs related to COVID19 and a safe return to school for students and staff across the province.

  • $10M in additional mental health funding to support continued learning and well-being of students. WRDSB is projected to receive $186 thousand in additional funding.
  • $15M in additional funding to support technology-related costs. WRDSB is projected to receive $461thousand to support technology needs.

In June, the Ministry announced increased funding to support reopening schools. These targeted investments, in the form of Priorities and Partnerships Funding, are being made in the following areas:

  • Custodians- The Ministry is providing $50M (provincially) in one-time funding to support the hiring of additional custodians to meet cleaning protocols in our schools. WRDSB is projected to receive $1.58M in funding through this allocation, which equates to roughly 32.5 additional custodial staff.
  • Health and Safety Training – The Ministry is allocating $10M (provincially) to allow school boards to extend health and safety training to all occasional teachers and casual education workers who could be required to cover absences in our schools. WRDSB is projected to receive $298 thousand in funding.
  • Cleaning Supplies – The Ministry is allocating a total of $29M to support enhanced cleaning on school buses and in schools to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

WRDSB is projected to receive $124 thousand of the original $4M investment announced by the Ministry in June; an additional $25M investment was announced in August but board by board allocations were not provided.

Targeted Ministry Investments

Each year, the Ministry of Education identifies and allocates funding for key priorities that align with the government’s vision for education in Ontario. These investments are made through Priority and Partnership Funds and change from year-to-year based on Ministry priorities and the availability of financial resources.

Non-Covid related Key Investments for 2020-21 include:

  • Mathematics – This funding allows boards to hire central and school-based positions, as well as support release time, to enhance student math performance. Provincial allocation is $40.26M. WRDSB will receive $1.2M. This allocation remains unchanged from the previous school year.
  • Mental Health and Well-Being – This allocation will enable school boards to support activities that promote well-being and mental health, as well as foster safe, healthy, inclusive and accepting learning environments. Provincial allocation is $9.67M; however, only $3M is allocated amongst all school boards, with the remainder being allocated to School Mental Health Ontario. WRDSB will receive $77 thousand, this amount remains unchanged from the previous school year.
  • After School Skills Development Program – This allocation will provide funding to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in social, communication, self-regulation and life-planning skills development. The provincial allocation is $6.1M and WRDSB will receive $127 thousand. This amount remains unchanged from the previous school year.
  • Supporting Students with Severe Learning Disabilities (LD) – This provides funding to support an intensive reading intervention pilot project in eight district school boards across the province by enhancing educator capacity to support students with LD and increasing the availability of supports for students with LD. The provincial Allocation is $1.75M and WRDSB will receive $198 thousand. This amount remains unchanged from the previous school year.

Capital Funding

The capital budget for the 2020-2021 school year is $70.4M. This includes school renewal projects at $7.6M and school condition improvements of $22.3M. New capital projects include a new elementary school in Kitchener with a budget of $11.7M and a new elementary school in South East Cambridge with a budget of $9.9M. Saginaw PS in Cambridge will receive a child care addition funded at $2.3M and Lackner Woods PS in Kitchener will also receive a child care addition funded at $2.2M.

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