June 25, 2013

DSBN Budget Prioritizes Student Success 

Investments in student success highlight the DSBN’s 2013/14 budget, approved at Monday night’s Board meeting. The budget for 2013/14 totals $417,041,718. The average cost of education per DSBN pupil is expected to be $11,935.

“In crafting this budget, Trustees worked very hard to develop a responsible fiscal plan that provides all DSBN students 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.

Highlights of the 2013/14 budget include: 

 

  • $1.2 million to create an additional 27 Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) classes, complementing the 38 new Full Day Early Learning classes that will be launched in September 2013. That makes an additional 25 public schools that will offer full day kindergarten, bringing the total to 66 DSBN elementary schools. “This is an important initiative for families in the region, which helps students enter Grade 1 prepared to learn and be successful,” said Trustee Ed Fulford, Chair of the Program and Planning Committee.

 

  • $800,000 to expand the DSBN’s French Immersion offerings. “Enrolment in these programs is increasing on a yearly basis,” said Sue Greer, Superintendent of School Support Services. “This investment will allow more students to gain the benefits of learning another language.”

 

  • $185,000 for teacher training in the area of technology. “Students want and expect to use technology to learn,” said Dalt Clark. “This funding will support the enhanced use of technology in the classroom.”

 

  • $100,000 for Dreambox software to support elementary students’ comprehension and understanding of mathematical concepts.

 

  • $81,000 to create a regional Specialist High Skills Major program in Horticulture.

This year's budgeting process once again saw Trustees confront the problem of underfunding in the area of Special Education. The Board's Special Education grant is approximately 10% or $4.6 million below what it would receive if funded at the average Provincial per-pupil rate. As a result, Trustees have decided to support an expenditure of $800,000 above the funding received from the Province to partially address the gap.

Chair of the Board Kevin Maves said the Board continues to encourage the government to address the inequity in special education funding. “Continually pulling from reserve funds to supplement the special education budget cannot be considered a long-term, sustainable strategy. The DSBN is committed to meeting the needs of all learners, and it is essential for the government to address this funding gap for us to most effectively carry out our mission.”

Mitigating the impact of declining enrolment will also be a major focus of the Board in the coming school year. As the Ministry funds school boards in Ontario based on their enrolment, declines in enrolment have a resultant negative effect on the Board’s budget, which is used to support student success.

Continuing its long-term facility planning efforts, the DSBN will conduct accommodation reviews in St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie to ensure students continue to benefit from rich programs in quality buildings in the future.