Ottawa Public School Board Faces a $9 Million Shortage for the 2022-23 School Year

Ottawa’s public school board wants to dive into reserves to clear a $9 million deficit in its 2022-23 budget.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board will begin debating and hearing from the public Tuesday night about its proposed $1 billion operating budget for the next school year.

“For 2022-2023, the staff-recommended budget is primarily focused on maintaining student support and continuing to manage the additional costs of measures designed to maintain safe and healthy schools and work environments,” the staff said in a statement. the budget report.

Seventy-five new staff positions for elementary and secondary schools will be added to the board to cover increased enrollment and staffing refinement for students with special needs. The draft budget includes an additional $4.5 million for special education, an additional $2.4 million for school activities to cover increased utility and service costs, and $1.1 million for mental health and wellness.

According to staff, the board expects $50 million in revenue to increase next school year as a result of projected higher enrollments, raises to help with inflationary pressures and improved earnings from the extended day program.

To balance the budget, the staff recommends using $9 million of the accumulated surplus of $31.7 million.

OCDSB Chief Financial Officer Mike Carson told a special board meeting last week that it recommends a proposed deficit to make new investments to support students and cover required cost pressures.

“We believe this is a transition year,” Carson said of the proposed deficit spending. “It’s a year as we come out of COVID and begin to address the impact of the pandemic and the changes that the city of Ottawa and our families have been through, that we wanted as much as possible to provide as much stability as possible to families and staff. we could.”

Carson says $8.3 million of the projected shortfall will make up for “a shortfall” in special education funding for the school year. Transport financing will also face a deficit next year.

School boards are allowed to use the accumulated surplus to cover a deficit of one percent of the total budget.

This would be the third time in four school years the board has used reserves to balance its books. The OCDSB posted a $14 million deficit in the 2021-2022 school year.

The school board expects an additional 1187 students to enroll in primary and secondary schools in 2022-23.

Trustees will approve the 2022-23 budget later this month.

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