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Peel District School Board adjusts budget ahead of new school year

August 6, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Peel District School Board has made some changes to its proposed 2020/21 budget, with $1.96 billion in spending now projected for the upcoming school year. 

The budget, initially passed back in June, was revisited last Tuesday (July 28), with adjustments passed by new PDSB Supervisor Bruce Rodrigues and the district’s board of trustees. 

“This budget supports the Peel District School Board’s commitment to student achievement, anti-Black, African, Caribbean racism, anti-Islamophobia, equity, anti-oppression and well-being initiatives, as identified in its strategic plan – the Plan for Student Success,” shared Rodrigues. “The board’s student-focused budget for 2020-21 demonstrates fiscal responsibility, ensuring funds directly support the work of staff to make a positive difference in the lives of Peel board students.”

The budget includes an addition of 125 classroom teachers, 95 education assistants and 31 occasional educational assistants for students with special needs. The budget also has a collection of Ministry directives included, such as the implementation of a new employment system review, human resource applicant tracking, and the hiring of an outreach officer. 

Feminine products will be provided for secondary schools. As well, all staff will receive support for culturally responsive and management training.

The board sought the inputs of additional members of the school community, such as employee group leaders, school administrators, the senior leadership team as well as parents/guardians, students and members of the community.

“This is the highest balanced budget I have been a part of in my 10 years as Caledon’s Public School Board trustee. The PDSB continues to be a growth board,” said PDSB Trustee for Caledon, Stan Cameron. “Ministry funding to each of its 72 publicly funded school boards is largely driven by student enrolment. With a balanced budget of (approximately) $1.96 billion for the 2020-21 school year, the PDSB continues to focus on student success and well-being initiatives.”

He added, “This continuous growth in enrolment marks the PDSB as the second largest school board in Canada, operating 257 schools and serving over 155,000 students.”

The COVID-19 pandemic impacts on the school board was taken into consideration when organizing the new school year budget, but were not added to the announced budget as all school boards are waiting on the Ministry’s direction.

“As for the COVID costs, they were not incorporated within the budget, as the Ministry was still considering what model the boards would be following and how the Ministry would support us. They know that boards won’t be able to absorb all the costs on their own,” explained Cameron. 

He believes the Province’s announcement last Thursday (June 30) that they were planning for the safe reopening of schools in September clearly shows that they are planning to allocate additional budget in various areas. 

“At this point, we don’t know how much will be for PDSB and how it will be flowed,” Cameron said. 

The provincial government has released a series of instructions designed to keep students safe and not at risk of the virus once kids get back to school. 

Elementary schools will all reopened across the province, five days a week. Secondary schools have been split in half with those with less risk reopening with a normal operating schedule five days a week, while those with higher risk will see students attend a part-time attendance with classes switching from in-person to online. 

“It’s been hard on families to balance work and child-care, while kids have been separated from friends and other kids their own age. We want to get our kids back to school, but it has to be done safely,” said Premier Ford in a previous news release. “That’s why we’ve worked with our public health experts, Ontario Health and the medical experts at SickKids to develop a plan that ensures students can return to the classroom five days a week in a way that protects the health and safety of our children, teachers, and school staff.”

Decisions have yet to be made about the addition teachers and EA’s, as discussions continue amid the pandemic. COVID-19 has impacted their recruitment process drastically, drawing their focus in a new direction.

“HR staff indicated that our recruitment decisions are not in the same place as they have been in other years, due to the impact of COVID-19.  Recruitment is currently focused on the impact potential workplace accommodations will have on staffing in general and how this will affect occasional pools,” said Cameron. “PDSB will start to receive accommodation requests over the next two weeks. This will impact staffing and also recruitment. Staff shared that this has to be the focus now and so the HR department is not able to provide a strategy that addresses needs in Caledon alone at this time.”

 For more information about the 2020/2021 budget, visit peelschools.org.  



         

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