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Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board trustees approve $431M balanced budget for 2020-2021

Trustees approved a budget of $431,036,046 for the 2020-2021 school year following a meeting on Thursday.
Trustees approved a budget of $431,036,046 for the 2020-2021 school year following a meeting on Thursday. The Canadian Press file

Following the recommendation from its budget committee, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board trustees have approved a balanced budget of more than $431 million for the next school year.

Trustees meeting Thursday approved a budget of $431,036,046 for the 2020-2021 school year. The budget is $15 million more than the 2019-20 school board budget of $416,335,495.

The budget was developed based on the priorities set out within its 2019-2022 strategic plan.

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

“Our strategic plan identifies key priorities for our schools and school board, and guides our planning and decision-making, including how we allocate our budget,” stated board chairperson Diane Lloyd.

“While it’s always a challenge to make choices amongst all the worthwhile initiatives we are engaged in, we used those priorities as a framework to guide our decisions.”

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The board says the budget reflects continued overall growth which includes student growth with an additional 600 elementary students and an additional 90 secondary school students.

The budget also includes an approximately $1M coronavirus pandemic support allocation.

“In these uncommon times, we know our students, staff and parents are most interested in returning to school and resuming their educational journey together,” said Lloyd. “We very much share their wish for those brighter days to come soon.

“As we continue to prepare for the resumption of school, the budget we have approved today includes measures to address additional costs to ensure our schools and buildings will be ready for the safe return of our students and staff. Specifically, we will be implementing additional pandemic cleaning practices, including additional roving custodial staff. We are also ready to allocate additional funds to these efforts if they are required.”

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The budget also includes $60 million in the area of special education to support students with special needs and an investment of over $30 million in capital funding dedicated to building and school improvement projects.

“We continue to serve a student population with increasingly complex needs, so our special education supports truly benefit all our students, not only our most vulnerable,” said Sarah Bobka, budget committee chairperson. “We also know that the pandemic we are all living through is a significant event in the lives of our students and staff, with potentially extended impacts on their mental health and well-being. As a result, we expect our needs in this area to continue to grow.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Ontario prefers in-class return for students, but health officials must approve

The approved budget also includes a capital Budget of over $30 million. Projected spending on projects for 2020-2021 will include program enhancements for students (library and science room enhancements), as well as annual building improvements (lighting, window replacements, roof and boiler maintenance).

“Over the last five years, we have invested over $200 million in improvements and enhancements to our schools,” said Lloyd. “We want to ensure, as best we are able, that our physical spaces can keep pace with the advanced programming and instructional practices envisioned by our teachers.”

Additional budget information is available at school board’s website.

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