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Board facing cuts

Increased class sizes amount to $24.3 million funding shortfall, more than 80 staff positions being cut

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

While not hit as hard as other boards around Ontario, the Durham District School Board is facing a decrease in both its operating and capital budgets in 2019-2020.

With the provincial government directing boards to find financial efficiencies, local trustees are facing a decision of reducing funding in numerous areas.

The budget calls for an operating budget of  $782.9 million, and $125.8 million in capital costs. Respectively, this represents decreases of $6.5 million and $20.7 million from last year’s budget.

In total, grants for student needs have dropped $2 million from $770.3 million in 2018-19 to $768.3 million in the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

Increased class sizes in both elementary and secondary schools will potentially create a $24.3 million shortfall for the board.

The average class size from Grades 4 to 8 have increased from 23.84 students to 24.5 students, resulting in a funding decrease of $2.9 million.

Secondary school class sizes have increased from 22 to 28, creating a $21.4 million drop in funding.

Enrolment is projected to be slightly down next year, as it is estimated there will be approximately 70,776 students in Durham schools.

With a capacity for 71,674 students, this means there will be a surplus of space as there are still 898 open spots.

In 2018, the board’s enrolment was 70,903 students, with a capacity of 71,293.

Enrolment is expected to decrease slightly over the next five years as well.

However, these projections only take registered plans of subdivisions into account.

A $7.7 million reduction of staff and development expenses has resulted in a number of staff being let go.

According to the budget, DDSB will lose 27 educational assistants, 13 elementary special education resource teachers and 10 custodial staff among other positions.

There will be a number of school improvement projects at Oshawa schools during the 2019-20 school year.

Some projects include approximately $1 million to replace the heating system at Durham Alternative Secondary School and $1.2 million for a roof replacement at Dr. C.F. Cannon Public School.

An unnamed public school in Oshawa’s north end is also set to open later this year.

The new school is located at 800 Greenhill Avenue, and will house 519 students.

DDSB will meet one more time to discuss the budget on at the DDSB’s Education Centre, 400 Taunton Road East in Whitby, on June 26 at 7 p.m.

At the meeting, the board will table the budget for consideration, and potentially recommend it’s approval.