RDSB may to take over $1 million out of reserves, unless pandemic funding provided by province

SUDBURY – Without financial support from the provincial government, the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) would be required to draw $1.3 million from its reserves to meet its budget requirements for this year. This deficit is primarily driven by additional COVID-19 expenses.

“Looking at our overall financial position we are predicting that we will need to draw down $1.3 million for our surplus reserve, and that it is primarily driven by what is categorized as additional COVID-19 expenses,” Dennis Bazinet, superintendent of business for RDSB, told the Recorder after a board meeting last week. 

“Our expenses related to COVID-19 is driving the deficit,” Mr. Bazinet added, pointing out that RDSB funding from the province has been affected with a reduction of 122 elementary students and 12 in secondary schools this school year. 

“Contributing to this loss is that parents have decided not to put kids in school in JK (Junior Kindergarten this year), so we’ve seen a drop in that number, and a higher number of parents are home schooling their children this year,” said Mr. Bazinet. 

Mr. Bazinet pointed out, “when we talk expenses in relation to COVID-19, a large portion of this has to do with enhanced cleaning of schools, with several different contractors being used. We are running all our school and buildings ventilation systems 24/7 for air flow, so our utility costs have increased. And there has been additional costs involved with having to purchase Chrome books and IT equipment for students. Finally, our supply teaching costs are higher, with higher rates of absenteeism and where staff has had to quarantine.” 

The province, “has hinted there might be one-time funds flowing to school boards (for COVID-19 expenses),” said Mr. Bazinet. “But as of today nothing has been confirmed.” 

Mr. Bazinet added, “overall everyone in the school system is doing their best and following the rules through the pandemic, from teachers, school staff and administration, bus drivers, students and parents who are making sure their child is getting on the school bus and wearing masks. Everyone is doing their best.”