Trustees receive overview of balanced budget for 2013-2014 school year

SUDBURY—Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) trustees received a first look at the budget for the 2013-2014 school year at their policy and finance committee meeting on Tuesday, May 21. Staff presented a balanced budget of just over $172 million. Budget deliberations will continue on June 11. The board is expected to approve a final budget on July 2.

The Rainbow board continues to experience declining enrolment, resulting in less revenue for programs and services. While the board has received $1.6 million to mitigate the loss, total provincial grants have decreased by $3.6 million or two percent overall.

Projected enrolment for September is expected to total 13,453 students, an overall reduction of 558 (full-time equivalent). According to projections, there will be 260 fewer students in the elementary panel, 278 fewer students in the secondary panel, and 20 fewer students in adult education.

Seventy-six percent of the budget, or $130 million, has been allocated to salaries and benefits. The total staffing complement for 2013-2014 will be a full-time equivalent of 1,526 employees, a net reduction of 38.5.

The budget reflects a decrease of 12 elementary teachers, 20 secondary teachers, two school administrators, 9.5 educational assistants and two other positions due to attrition. The budget reflects an increase of six designated early childhood educators for the ongoing implementation of the Early Learning Kindergarten Program and one leader in mental health.

“In the past two years, the board significantly reduced its ongoing expenditures, which helped us achieve a balanced budget once again this year,” said Director of Education Norm Blaseg. “These savings, coupled with the declining enrolment grant that we received this year, enabled us to align our expenditures to meet our revenue.”

Mr. Blaseg added, “we have achieved a balanced budget while continuing to invest in programs for students, such as full day, every day Junior Kindergarten. We also remain committed to the revitalization of Rainbow Schools, including construction of the new MacLeod Public School which is currently underway.”

In 2013-2014, the province allocated an additional $5.6 million for the Early Learning Program, which will be fully implemented by 2014-2015. The province has also provided $163,000 in capital funding for equipment and minor renovations to support Early Learning.

The budget reflects significant savings in the cost of utilities. Capital projects (including energy retrofits, the renewal of schools, the construction of two new green schools, and the revitalization of Sudbury Secondary School) coupled with declining enrolment have resulted in a decrease in electricity, gas and water consumption.