The Simcoe County District School Board is expected to pass its budget this week, with $2.6 million in savings.
Board chair Jodi Lloyd said much of the budget is a “good news story.”
“Due to the efficiency of our board and some difficult decisions made in the past, we are in a better position to offset some of the cuts,” she said. “There are some boards in the province that are having to make some drastic cuts to programs and services.”
Much of the savings the board has found is in its facilities staffing. Some positions are being cut, but the board is also “realigning” staff responsibilities and opting to not fill some of the positions left by those who are retiring.
“We have made cuts in areas that don’t directly affect students,” Lloyd said.
However, with the average secondary school class size increasing from 22 to 28, teaching jobs will be lost. It’s not yet known how many teachers will be let go or what programs will be affected.
“We’ve weathered the first year fairly well, but there will be reductions over the years,” Lloyd said.
Seven special-education resource teacher positions are being eliminated, but the board is upping the number of educational assistants by 55 to help fill the void.
“Students still need that support,” Lloyd said.
On a positive note, she said, some teachers who were told they’d be losing their jobs are being called back thanks, in part, to a “significant increase in the number of retirements.”
“It will continue to roll out right until school starts in the fall,” she said.
The budget, which will be voted on at Wednesday’s board meeting, includes $591,251,000 in operating costs, while the capital budget is set at $135,177,000. It includes almost $6 million for ongoing maintenance of schools.
While Lloyd praised the board for being financially responsible, it wasn’t an easy budget year, she said, noting enrolment is expected to increase by 652 elementary and 280 secondary school students.
“Even though our student numbers are increasing, we’ve had to find $2.6 million in savings,” she said.