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Toronto District School Board Faces $67.8 Million Budget Shortfall

Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Categories: Happenings @ TDSB

The Toronto District School Board is projecting a budget shortfall of $67.8 million for 2019-20. The shortfall is influenced by three factors, two of which have a direct impact on the Board’s projected budget shortfall and one that has an impact on Board service levels:

  • TDSB Annual Structural Shortfall - $25.7M;
  • Ministry of Education Grant for a net loss of $42.1M; and
  • Service Level Changes.

The combined total of $42.1 million in Ministry of Education funding reductions and the Board’s $25.7 million structural shortfall equal the new budget shortfall of $67.8 million. On May 13, Board staff presented a proposed balanced operating budget to the Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee. The proposal recommends trustees approve a number of reductions to staff positions and services to cover the shortfall.

Staff recognizes that Trustees face challenging decisions to balance the budget while best supporting student learning and achievement and providing equitable allocation of resources so that all students, including those with special needs, receive the support they need to be successful.

Staff has systematically reviewed each and every budget line – it is a daunting task to take millions out of the system when millions were already taken out of the system since funding was changed in 1998.

It is important to note that everything we currently do is valued by the communities these programs and services serve – nothing is brought before our school communities lightly or without careful consideration.

The proposed balanced budget does not eliminate any programs, services or professional staff functions. Some will be reduced in scope, some will have fewer professional staff and some will be reorganized with a different delivery model to achieve budget savings and/or more effective service delivery or changing needs.

Why a structural deficit? At the TDSB, we have many programs and services that respond to the unique needs of urban education – programs that are not part of the Ministry funding envelope. Many other school boards do not offer these programs and services or deliver them differently. In the past, the Board has made up the funding shortfall by finding savings and efficiencies during the year in other areas of the budget – cuts that have for the most part not affected classrooms and students, For example, approximately $15 million in reductions are proposed for central staff – Learning Centres, Senior Team, Centrally Assigned Principals, Central Administration and Outdoor Education.

The Board has also used contingency and reserve funds to help balance the operating budget, but this is no longer sustainable. In previous years when the Board faced a budget shortfall, we did our best to limit reductions that would directly impact students. This will not be possible this year with a budget revenue shortfall of $67.8 million. Where possible, staff’s proposals do not eliminate programs or services. Instead, staff proposes reductions to several programs or services. Staff’s proposed balanced budget plan will bring the TDSB closer in line with the provincial funding allocation. The proposed balanced operating budget includes a number of programs and services  that will continue to receive full or additional funding including special education, early years and caring and safe schools.

In the days to come, the Finance, Budget and Enrolment Committee (FBEC) will hold several meetings to discuss the budget. During these meetings, there will be a number of opportunities for public input, including that of staff. Once approved by the Committee, the budget will then proceed to a full board meeting for final discussion and approval.