The Catholic school board approved a balanced budget for the coming year that’s $7 million richer than last year’s budget.
During a special meeting on Aug. 5, the board accepted the $141.6-million budget for the 2020-21 school year and has promised parents a complete report this week on the back-to-school plans for elementary and secondary school.
“We have a plan in place but we don’t want to send out something that’s incomplete,” said Rick Petrella, chair of the Brant Haldimand-Norfolk Catholic District School Board.
“I’ve been getting lots of calls and emails from parents but we still have questions for the ministry and we just received more technical papers from the ministry.”
Petrella said the plan would be released immediately following a board meeting to finalize it on Aug. 10.
“People are anxious that we’re cutting it close but the board felt it was more appropriate to have a complete plan in place before releasing it. We are committed to the safety of our students.”
Meanwhile, the board proved to be early-adopters of the need for personal protective equipment, placing orders months ago for PPE and cleaning supplies in preparation for whatever needs would be in place later in the year.
“We were out of the gate early and sourcing a lot of material,” said Petrella.
The board will eventually receive some additional funding from the province for COVID-related costs.
The board’s enrolment in elementary, secondary and French immersion schools continues to rise and that’s largely responsible for the increase in funding the board is receiving.
The sector is estimated to be getting a 3.3 per cent increase over the 2019-20 year and the average per-pupil funding is going up to $12,525 from $12,275.
At this point, 101 more elementary students are enrolled than last year and 138 more secondary students.
The board’s new budget maintains a $19.3 million surplus, which Petrella says is used to start capital projects in schools and reinvest in facilities.
“We were able to put a large increase in the budget for special education which comes back to our policy of fiscal restraint but reinvesting in areas that are important to our parents.”
A balanced, board-approved budget for the coming year has to be in to the Ministry of Education by Aug. 19.
“This is a conservative board with a strong sense of fiscal responsibility,” said Petrella.
“This budget shows that financial responsibility can be achieved without inhibiting students’ success. We’ve done it over and over and we can continue to invest in our schools and children and have a great learning environment.”