By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
To accommodate Oshawa’s growing north end, the city is set to receive a pair of new elementary schools following approval of the 2017-18 budget of the Durham District School Board recently.
The balanced budget, which includes $111.5 million in capital costs, as well as a $760 million operating budget, sees two still unnamed schools being placed in Oshawa’s north end at Northern Dancer Drive and Bridle Road and Greenhill Avenue and Clearbank Drive, both of which are scheduled to open in 2018.
Originally, the school at the corner of Northern Dancer Drive and Bridle Road was scheduled to open for the fall of 2017. However, delays pushed the project into 2018.
David Visser, associate director of education for DDSB, says the board was unable to ‘fast track’ the school for a 2017 opening. However, he noted both new schools in Oshawa are on schedule for this fall.
DDSB is also planning a new school in Ajax.
Over the past 10 years, enrolment at DDSB schools has remained fairly stagnant, jumping only 3,191 students to 69,453 since 2007. And currently, that trend is expected to continue into 2021.
It is estimated that the board will gain 779 elementary students while losing 119 secondary students in 2017-18.
In terms of future growth, only approved plans of subdivision are taken into account when the projections are created, and future plans for areas in north Oshawa, Seaton in Pickering, west Whitby or Brooklin were not considered. It’s expected that these developments will boost the numbers as more families move into the areas.
“We are aware of them for operational changes – whether we need to make more classrooms available or hire more staff, we keep our pulse on that,” Visser says.
Two local high schools will also be getting some much needed upgrades after taking in an influx of students following the closure of Oshawa Central CI last year. Both Eastdale CVI and R.S. McLaughlin CVI will see the construction of additions to the tune of $5 million and $3.7 million respectively.
There are also a number of school improvement projects at Oshawa schools included in the budget with a $900,000 roof replacement coming to Adelaide McLaughlin Public School, $220,000 for masonry restoration at Coronation Public School, a $2 million roof replacement at R.S. McLaughlin CVI and $425,000 for boiler replacement at Stephen Saywell Public School.
Jennifer Machin, DDSB manager of budget, says she was pleased with the budget overall, which met the provincial standards regarding balance and class size.
“I think we have had a number of positive aspects in this budget,” she says.
On the operation side of things, the largest expenditure for DDSB is staffing costs with approximately $648.4 million of the $760 million budget going to instruction.
For 2017-18, DDSB has received an additional $7 million from the province to hire 60 additional education assistants, teachers and special education teachers.
The remainder of the operation dollars are taken up by administration and governance ($15.9 million) school operation and maintenance ($70.3 million) and transportation ($21.5 million).
With that said, DDSB is set to save approximately $1.2 million following a bell time change review that worked to synchronize school start times and transportation. The dollars saved are set to help approximately 1,300 students, 245 of which live in priority neighbourhoods, being eligible for transportation.
The DDSB is also not wasting any time as it has recently been announced that the school board is set to break ground on the new public school in Ajax, as well as the new school on Northern Dancer Drive in Oshawa on June 30.