Local school boards in budget squeeze
Published Tuesday, June 5, 2012 12:48PM EDT
Both the Waterloo Region District School Board and the Waterloo Region Catholic School Board are facing budgetary constraints for 2013. Catholic board officials say job cuts are inevitable. The public board will try to combine open positions with existing ones to achieve cost savings.
The catholic board's Chief Financial Officer, Shesh Maharhaj, says teachers and education assistants will be affected, "We have projected 23 teacher layoffs in secondary, three in elementary and the number of EA's (educational assistants) is 38."
The catholic board's projected budget for 2013 is 244 million dollars.
The catholic board is also facing enrollment issues. Next year there will be 655 fewer students in the hallways of catholic elementary and high schools. To put that into perspective, that's the equivalent of two small elementary schools.
"I've been here 13 years and this, by far, has been the hardest budget that we've had to balance", says Maharhaj,
John Shewchuck, spokesperson for the catholic board, adds that shrinking enrollment will be an ongoing issue, "In the past we were very priviledged to have a lot of students coming from predominantly catholic countries who were immigrating to Canada over the past 10 years or so [but] that's changed now and the immigration patterns coming into the region are predominantly non-catholic families."
Dwindling enrollment isn't a plight faced by the public board, however.
"We're up about 316 students over what we had estimated last year due to the additional grants. That always helps us with our budget", says public board Financial Controller, Marion Jarrell.
The public board won't be cutting jobs and expects to have a balanced budget of approximately 628 million dollars. "They've presented a budget that protects the classroom as much as possible", says Catherine Fife, Chair, Waterloo Region District School Board.
Neither board is expected to make cuts to special education. The catholic board will change course in this area, however, terminating 38 educational assistants and hiring 13 child and youth care workers. The public board's plans have yet to be determined.
Both budgets will be voted on nearing the end of June.