School board budget ‘minimizes’ provincial cutbacks

High school students should brace for larger classes after the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) passed a balanced 2019-2020 budget of $1.515 billion.

“With recent changes in funding from the provincial government, our board has focused on approving a budget that supports students and minimizes the effects of reductions on classroom spending,” Chair Corrie McBain says of the budget, which was approved on July 9.

This year’s budget represents a 1.38% increase from the 2018-2019 budget of $1.494 billion. According to the board, 94.1% of this year’s budget will go towards classroom instruction and operations, while the balance is earmarked for governance, administration and transportation.

“The changes in funding from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020 resulted in a loss of revenue of approximately $26 million for 2019-2020, making the budget process challenging,” says Chief Financial Officer Wanda Muirhead-Toporek. “The board has benefitted from being a growth board and therefore a significant amount of funding reduction was mitigated by the substantial student population growth of approximately 2.3%.”

The budget includes an attrition protection allocation, an initiative announced by the provincial government in April that it says will help protect frontline teaching staff and prevent the risk of layoffs due to class size changes or e-learning.

Other budget highlights: the opening of two new schools, a reduction in Designated Early Childhood Educator funding, an increase in special education funding due to board growth and continuation of a Cash Management Strategy designed to reduce provincial borrowing costs by reducing cash flow to boards based on their financial position and investments.

The Local Priorities Fund, Cost Adjustment Allocation and Human Resources Transition Supplement ends August 31, resulting in a $12 million funding loss, YRDSB reports. Budget revenues are derived from Grants for Student Needs from the provincial government, which includes property taxes transferred from the municipalities, miscellaneous revenues comprised of tuition fees for international students, rental revenues and other revenues, including interest revenue.

The YRDSB has a student population of 127,000 and is the largest employer in the region with more than 15,000 staff members across nine municipalities.

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