The Near North District School Board (NNDSB) approved its budget of $168.3 million, marking a 4.3 per cent increase over last year. Board chair Jay Aspin mentioned in a recent release that the 2022-23 budget “will continue to move the board solidly forward with many positive enhancements.”
Those enhancements include “the consolidation of three elementary schools to a new Fricker elementary school in North Bay,” within the year, “and the consolidation of two elementary schools with and existing high school” in Parry Sound, Aspin explained.
The board is expecting an increase in student enrollment of 3.2 per cent, projecting an additional 141 elementary students and 161 more secondary students enrolled this year. “As a result, there were no teacher layoffs this spring,” the board said.
The province is providing $1.8 million in funding through the Covid-19 Learning Recovery Fund “to provide temporary staffing supports for learning recovery” and for the “implementation of the first year of de-streamed grade nine.”
The funds will also help with remote learning, “supports for special education,” and maintaining “enhanced cleaning standards” in the wake of the pandemic.
The board projects a deficit of $192,000 in special education, but “continues to allocate additional funds to ensure that the special education needs of students across the board are well-supported, and special education staffing has remained consistent.”
Transportation costs are also in a deficit, the board explained, of $1.3 million. However, the Ministry of Education “will be allocating a two per cent increase” in transportation funding, so “the deficit would be reduced to $1 million” once that money arrives.
Collective agreements are expiring on August 41st, 2022, so the board has “included a provision for labour negotiations” within the budget.
Funding for mental health has seen “a significant increase.” The Ministry of Education has increased the base amount of the allocation to support student mental health from $100,858 per board to $310,723, “and increased the per pupil amount from $1.34 to $6.67.”
“It has been a challenging year to keep our staff and students safe in the midst of the second year of a very difficult and disruptive pandemic and remain fiscally responsible” Aspin said. “We have approved a solid, strategic financial plan and look forward to the year ahead.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.