The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board has approved a $ 282.4-million operating budget with investments in post-pandemic learning recovery and mental health supports.
Board trustees passed the proposed budget during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.
“Every year we consult closely with our community, and our administration develops a budget based on what our constituents identify as their main concerns for our students,” said board chair Fulvio Valentinis after the budget was tabled. “This year we heard from more than 4,700 people who identified student learning in the areas of reading writing and math, mental health, and students with special needs as their top priorities. We think this budget delivers on all of those concerns. ”
The budget is based on a projected day school enrollment for 2022 to 2023 of 20,375 students, an increase of 225 students from the budget estimate for the school year prior.
The budget accounts for a spending increase of about $ 9.2 million, attributed mainly to increased program expenses and increased staffing costs due to the forecasted higher enrollment.
About $ 3.19 million from Ontario’s COVID-19 Learning Recovery Fund will be spent on temporary additional teachers, early childhood educators, educational assistants, and other education workers to address learning recovery, the delivery of remote learning, support for special education, maintaining enhanced cleaning standards , and the implementation of the first year of fully de-streamed Grade 9.
Another $ 2.09 million, this time from the provincial Supports for Students Fund will go to supporting student learning needs, while $ 448,847 from the Student Mental Health Investment will be spent on student learning and well-being.
Nearly $ 194,000 will be spent on enhancing support for students with special education needs, and $ 78,460 will fund more assistive technology for students with special education needs.
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With approximately two-thirds of enrollment-based education funding, the estimated increase equates to roughly $ 1.6 million in additional grant revenue for the board, for a total of $ 281.6 million. The remaining budget expenditures not funded through grants or other revenue sources will be funded through the board’s accumulated surplus.
“This is a responsible budget that puts us on solid financial ground and allows us to provide the excellent service that our students and their families have come to expect from us,” said Emelda Byrne, director of education.
“This is a roadmap to provide the best possible learning opportunities for pupils, maintain services to meet the needs of all students, budget for contingencies, and allow continued progress towards system growth and achievement of our strategic objectives.”