UCDSB okays $353M school budget

BROCKVILLE | While students cram on fi- nal exams or get graduation gowns in or- der, Upper Canada district school trustees had one key piece of financial business to finish up before they could look forward to their summer vacation break. Upper Canada District School Board trustees (UCDSB) approved a $353 million operating budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year during their June 18 regular session. The board also approved $45.8 million ear- marked for capital works projects over the summer season and regular school term. “The biggest thing this budget does is ensure quality and consistency in our pro- gramming and operations,” stated UCDSB Chairman Greg Pietersma in a news re- lease. “It provides assurance for parents that schools will be open, math and science classes will run, (school) driveways will be cleared, competition will take place on our sports fields, and buses will be running.” UCDSB Director David Thomas noted that changes in the budget reporting process mean department heads will keep trustees better informed in future through quarterly status reports as part of the new Account- ability Framework protocol. “The development of the Accountability Framework has had a very positive impact on our senior team,” Thomas stated. “It has helped us to become more purposeful, fo- cused, responsive, and transparent in our operations, and that is reflected in this bud- get.”

Funds in the 2014-2015 operating budget come from the provincial education min- istry’s annual student needs grant to the UCDSB. The grant is based on total full- and part-time student enrolment in the Upper Canada school district. Other school dis- tricts also receive their provincial student needs grants based on their total student numbers. Any increases in the annual grant not accounted for through inflation are the result of increases in student numbers at district schools. The major portion of the UCDSB 2014- 2015 operations budget goes toward staff salaries for teachers, principals, para-pro- fessionals and others. The allocation is $241 million for wages. Another $25 million in the operations budget goes towards trans- portation costs, with $34 million for opera- tion and maintenance of school facilities, and $8.5 million for administration and gov- ernance costs. The next term’s capital works budget in- cludes plans for building and equipping two new elementary schools in Cornwall and Kemptville. Those schools will open in 2016. The budget also has allocations for school renewal work and improvements to meet the needs of the new expanded Full- Day Kindergarten program. The 2014-2015 budget also includes $46 million in Special Education funding. That breaks down to $19.4 million for special education teachers and $17.7 million for program assistants, along with $1.2 million

for a new technology fund to help with stu- dent learning. Other operation budget allocations in- clude: $2.9 million for human resources, $4.4 million for the director’s office, $5.4 million for information technology services, and $3.7 million for programming. There is also $90.3 million for facilities, divided be- tween design and construction, and facili-

ties operation and maintenance. “This budget reflects our philosophy that proper support for student learning is at the heart of everything we do,” stated Pieters- ma. “We are funding new school projects, enhancing the instructional skills of our teachers, and funding special education programming. All the kinds of efforts that allow students to learn and thrive.”

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Thanks to a little corporate sponsorship from Lowe’s, industrial ed students at Rockland District High School have a cutting-edge tire installation machine to use as part of the autoshop program. The school received a $3000 Toolbox for Education grant, which allowed purchase of the machine along with $300 worth of extra tools for students to use in their autoshop and mechanics program. Photo Gregg Chamberlain



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