Trustees approve 2024-25 fiscal plan

Balanced Budget
Posted on 06/19/2024
A balanced and compliant budget that supports the Catholic school board’s commitment to students and their families was approved by the WECDSB’s Trustees last evening.

“Every budget plan presents a different set of challenges, but administration has done an excellent job of considering community feedback, while balancing our spending commitments with eliminating the in-year deficit,” said Fulvio Valentinis, Chair of the Board.

The budget includes $322.2M in expenses with $319.9M of in-year grant revenues for a projected in-year deficit of $2.3M. Trustees were presented with two options at tonight’s meeting.

The first was to approve the draft budget as it was presented at the board’s meeting on June 11.

The second option, which was approved this evening and was based on feedback received from trustees at the June 11 meeting, called for adding back staff positions, whose duties were expected to be reassigned in the previous draft: two Child and Youth Workers, an itinerant teacher for the deaf, and an itinerant teacher for the blind.

Those changes – to be funded from the board’s operating surplus – resulted in a spending increase of approximately $340,000 more than what was proposed in the original draft budget, bringing the board’s in-year deficit to approximately $2.3M. Although that represents an increase from the $1.97M in-year deficit proposed in the original draft budget, it still meets the Ministry of Education’s criteria for regulatory compliance because it’s less than one per cent of the board’s operating allocation.

“I think this new budget plan offers some excellent solutions to continue meeting the needs of our most vulnerable students while maintaining our commitment to being fiscally responsible stewards of our resources,” Valentinis said.

The budget is based on enrollment projections of 22,145 pupils, an increase of 1,020 students from 2023-24 budget estimates. Adult student enrolment is expected to increase by 165 students to a total of 600. With about two thirds of education funding based on enrollment, this equates to an increase in grant revenue of about $11.9M.

The largest expenses included in the budget are for increased staffing, mainly due to increased enrollment; forecasted wage adjustments associated with the Bill 124 resolution; and increases in salaries due to recent labour agreements. Staffing accounts for 79 per cent of the board’s budget. Salaries and benefits are estimated at $253.6M for 2024-25, compared to $228.2M in 2023-24.

The board expects to spend about $42M on special education expenses, which is about $5.6M more than its grant allocation in this area. The budget also includes an in-year deficit elimination plan which includes using about $1.6M from the accumulated surplus to fund post-retirement benefit amortization expenses, as well as a $660,000 reduction to the board’s contingency provision. Under that plan, the board still maintains flexibility to account for unforeseen expenses.

Director of Education Emelda Byrne said the board’s business department and senior administrative team should be commended for its efforts to create a responsible financial plan that supports student achievement and success.

“Developing our budget is an exhaustive process, but throughout it all, we have listened to the feedback from our trustees and our community, and have delivered a solid plan that meets the needs of our students and their families,” she said. “It provides stability as well as the dexterity we require to make adjustments throughout the coming school year, if necessary. This is a plan that we can all be comfortable with.” 
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