Rainbow Board will need over $1 million in reserve funds to balance budget

Rainbow District School Board

SUDBURY – While it is expected that the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) will have a balanced budget going into the new school year this fall, the superintendent of business (SBO) for the board says that any time funds have to be taken from the board reserves, it is always a concern.

“I mean as a financial representative for a school board, when we have to draw funds from the board’s reserves there is cause for concern,” Dennis Bazinet, SBO for the board, told The Expositor after a board meeting last week to look at the draft budget (September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022). He pointed out the board is looking at taking $1.6 million from its reserves. “That is the bottom line,” he stated. 

“(Student) enrolment numbers are very much unknown at this point,” said Mr. Bazinet. “We’re within one percent of our operating to comply with the ministry (of education) component, estimating staff numbers and salaries.” 

“There are a couple of factors when we are looking at predicted enrolment,” said Mr. Bazinet. “At this time we are projecting a decrease of 86 students at the elementary school level, and an increase of 70 students in the secondary school panel. Any decrease in student enrolment directly affects our funding allotments.” He pointed out that an 86 student decrease on the elementary school level basically means a loss of $860,000 in funds provided to the board.

“In terms of the number of schools and buildings we will be operating, this will be the same number as last year,” Mr. Bazinet told The Expositor. He pointed out the RDSB is slated to receive additional funding from the province outside Grants for Students Needs (GSN) funding, of $1.2 million.

“The ministry has announced COVID-19 supports above GSN for the board at just under $4 million, which is very good news,” continued Mr. Bazinet. He noted as well the board has projected that there will be an overall increase in spending on special education and mental health in the upcoming budget.

In the area of revenues, a grant stabilization of $754,000, that the government had provided because of changing enrolment numbers, will be a loss for the next year, which is a significant loss, said Mr. Bazinet.

“Our capital school condition improvement funding is going down by $2 million in the upcoming budget. The government will be allocating less,” said Mr. Bazinet. However, the board will receive $11 million.

Mr. Bazinet also clarified, “when we say the board will be drawing form its reserves, it means as of August 22, the end of the fiscal year, there will still be $5.3 million remaining in reserve.”

The draft budget will be brought back to the school board on June 29 for their approval.