June 25, 2012                                                                                       

DSBN Budgets for Student Success

In the DSBN’s 2012-13 budget, approved at Monday night’s Board meeting, Trustees were able to balance the books, invest in student success and protect programs at risk due to provincial funding constraints.

“In crafting this budget, Trustees worked very hard to develop a responsible fiscal plan that is progressive, fair and provides students in Niagara with the resources, programs and supports needed for them to become successful in school,” said Dalton Clark, Chair of the Finance Committee and Trustee for St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The budget for 2012/13 totals $423,062,027. The average cost of education per DSBN pupil is expected to be $11,678 which represents an increase of 2.4% over 2011/12.

One of the most significant investments included in the budget is the expansion of French Immersion programming. In 2012-13, the DSBN will begin offering a Grade Four entry to French Immersion at nine schools across the region, while creating a Grade One entry at five public schools. This initiative represents an investment of over $688,000.

“This programming is important to families across Niagara, as enrolment in the DSBN’s French Immersion programs is increasing on a yearly basis,” said Barb Ness, Chair of the Program and Planning Committee and Trustee for Niagara Falls. “This initiative is an important way that we can support student success, as learning another language helps students to develop critical thinking skills, creativity and helps prepare them to compete in the global marketplace.”

Furthering the DSBN’s commitment to early learning, the DSBN’s 2012/13 budget includes $8.2 million for 45 new classes to proceed with the implementation of the Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten (FDELK). This fall will mark the third implementation year of the FDELK, with an additional 21 public schools offering the program, bringing the total number of sites to 37 public schools across Niagara. “We have seen first-hand the great gains as students enter Grade One and are much more prepared for a successful year,” said Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education.

While making investments to expand the DSBN’s wealth of programming, Trustees also opted to draw from the accumulated surplus to protect existing initiatives that support student learning. Changes to this year’s Ministry funding formula have decreased the funds available for Elementary Instructional Coaches and instructional computers.

“For today’s students, technology and learning go hand in hand,” said Joe Weinberg, Superintendent of Business Services. “Losing that funding would mean schools would not be able to replace outdated computers or add newer technology such as netbooks, tablets and Smart Boards.” Recognizing the need to have relevant learning technology in schools, Trustees included $465,000 in the budget to cover the shortfall.

Also included in the budget is $330,000 to supplement Ministry funding to enhance instructional capacity in the elementary panel. “The DSBN has made literacy and numeracy core priorities; investing in the skills and strategies used by our teachers and school administrators is an important instructional strategy for supporting student learning,” said Warren Hoshizaki, Director of Education.

Continuing a trend seen over the past number of years, enrolment is projected to continue declining at school boards across Ontario. At the DSBN, enrolment is expected to fall by 1.5% in 2012/13. As the Ministry funds school boards based on enrolment, the DSBN will continue with its long-term facility planning efforts to make the most efficient use of its resources and ensure that students benefit from excellent programming in quality facilities.

“By engaging in this long term planning exercise, I am confident that we will be able to serve the best interest of students by revitalizing our school buildings, incorporating new learning technologies, supporting our world-class staff and enhancing our innovative program offerings,” said Kevin Maves, Chair of the Board.