situation is creating an unexpected challenge in drafting the budget. “Considerable uncertainty exists regard- ing the impact of COVID-19 on issues, rang- ing from enrolments to funding,” Hobbs stated in his analysis. Curently, the UCDSB could have a $717,537 surplus from its 2019-2020 budget. District staff is still tallying up actual expenses for the past school year, allowing for reduced spending due to school closures resulting from both the pandemic and the rotating strikes by teacher unions during their contracts dispute with the provincial

government. Whether the UCDSB has either a deficit or surplus budget for the 2020-2021 term depends on several factors. The main con- cern is enrolment, which affects the amount of guaranteed provincial funding the district receives each year. Hobbs’ report noted that the UCDSB could see a slight decline in its total student population next term. Projections suggest a possible 0.4 per cent drop in student numbers for 2020-2021 compared to the current school year. Other factors may affect next school year’s budget. They range from changes to other provincial revenue sources to the need to increase the UCDSB’s contribution to its OMERS (non-teacher pension plan) program because of upsets to the 2020 economy thanks to the pandemic and other causes. The report concluded that the UCDSB may

have either a deficit or a surplus budget for 2020-2021. The potential deficit could be as much as $1.1 million, while the possible surplus could be more than $2.8 million. If the UCDSB faces a deficit budget situ- ation then trustees and administration have to decide on spending cuts as provincial legislation does not allow school districts to run deficit budgets. If a surplus budget results, then trustees will consider options for the extra money, which could mean us- ing some for existing or new programs or projects, or putting some or all of the surplus into a reserve fund. The Education Ministry will release its funding support figures for school districts, based on student enrolment projections, later this month. UCDSB trustees will receive the preliminary district 2020-2021 budget report June 3 for review and approve the final revised budget June 17.

They won’t know for certain until June but trustees for the Upper Canada school district could find some good news in the 2020-2021 budget report. Jeremy Hobbs, business services su- perintendent for the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), presented trustees during their April 22 teleconference session with a preliminary analysis of the district budget situation for the 2020-2021 school year. Hobbs noted that the current pandemic





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Legault Garden Centre in Hawkesbury is open for business, to the delight of local gardeners eager to plant their spring flower beds and vegetable gardens. The provincial government launched the first phase of its relaxation of business restrictions in Ontario in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Garden centres are among the list of businesses now allowed to open to the public, though there are still guidelines that owner/operators have to follow to maintain social distancing guidelines for their customers. Premier Doug Ford promised further relaxing of restrictions at a gradual pace to help restart the provincial economy without risking a new deluge of COVID-19 cases. —photo Gregg Chamberlain

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