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Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board proposes balanced budget of $431M; enrolment to increase

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has a proposed balance of $431 million for the 2020-2021 school year.
Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has a proposed balance of $431 million for the 2020-2021 school year. File

A balanced budget of more than $431 million has been proposed for the next school year for the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, which expects student enrolment to increase.

On Tuesday, school board trustees, sitting as the budget committee, began reviewing a proposed budget of $431,036,046 for the 2020-21 school year. The board says the budget is based on the priorities set out within its 2019-22 strategic plan.

The draft budget also includes an approximately $1-million coronavirus pandemic support allocation.

The 2019-20 school board budget was $416,335,495.

Read more: Coronavirus: Ontario government asks school boards to consider starting upcoming academic year earlier

“As always, there are areas of our budget that remain (an) ongoing challenge,” said Sarah Bobka, budget committee chairperson. “We continue to see increasingly complex needs among some of our most vulnerable students. As a result, and to support the health and wellness of all our students, we traditionally budget additional dollars beyond our special education funding allotment.”

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The proposed budget is also compliant with all Ministry of Education requirements.

“These continue to be very uncommon times in public education,” said Bobka. “As we continue our return-to school planning, we are preparing for additional costs to ensure our schools and buildings will be ready for the safe return of our students and staff. This allocation, in particular, has been established to support additional pandemic cleaning practices, including additional roving custodial staff. We are also prepared to dedicate more resources to these efforts, if needed.”

The committee will continue its discussion of the proposed operating budget at its next meeting on Thursday.

Enrolment

The board also says enrolment is expected to increase for the 2020-21 school year, including 607 elementary students and an additional 90 secondary school students.

“The increase in our secondary student enrolment is a very welcome change after many years of declining or static enrolment in that panel,” said Bobka. “Our schools are great places to learn with a wealth of vibrant, active programs that parents are choosing for their kids. This is great news for our board overall.

“We continue to be a destination of choice for parents seeking a rich and rewarding educational experience for their children. It is very encouraging to see once again a strong increase in our elementary enrolment — over 600 students — from year to year.”

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Board grant revenues are determined provincially based on elementary and secondary student enrolment. The school board’s total enrolment for 2020-21 is expected to be 33,366 students.

“Our funding is driven by our student enrolment and we continue to be a growth board,” said Bobka. “We pride ourselves on providing engaging and innovative learning experiences, and especially in these challenging days, our students and staff are doing amazing things. Clearly, parents in our communities are recognizing that and choosing KPR schools for their children.”

Contract agreements

The school board recently announced it had ratified deals with groups of teachers who had been without a collective agreement since September 2019, including:

  • Approximately 1,400 contract elementary teachers
  • Approximately 400 occasional secondary teachers
  • Approximately 400 occasional secondary teachers

Each agreement is effective until Aug. 31, 2022, the board stated.

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