Toronto school board writes to Ford government warning programs could be cut

A Toronto District School Board sign is shown in front of a high school in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario’s largest school board is warning it could be forced to cut programs if extra funding does not flow from the province.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) wrote a letter to Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce on Wednesday outlining its potentially dire financial situation.

In its letter, the board said that the COVID-19 pandemic had used a chunk of reserve funds and left the school board facing a significant deficit.

Both Toronto Public Health and the Ford government ordered TDSB to take actions during the pandemic that meant it spent money saved for contingencies, the letter said.

The letter, which was signed by both the TDSB chair and director of education, predicts a deficit of $61 million by the next school year without outside help.

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“We have depleted any working reserves and used reserves put away for other purposes,” the letter said.

It also asked for additional pandemic funding, which has flowed to school board to cover costs relating to COVID-19, to be continued. The funding is set to end this year.

“With the effects of the pandemic, cuts to funding seem reckless and harmful to students, now more than ever. This funding must continue,” the letter said.

A spokesperson for the ministry of education said it continued “to fund education at the highest levels” in Ontario’s history.

“We provided $3 billion to the TDSB this year alone, and look forward to increased investments where students need it the most, focused on reading and math skills,” the spokesperson said in a statement sent to Global News.

Ontario is set to table its budget, outlining its spending plans and priorities, on Thursday.

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