Rainbow District School Board has passed its 2022-23 school budget with some slight increases.
Board chair Bob Clement says the budget of $225.8 million maintains programs and services adjusted to include current collective agreements, some inflationary pressures, and the impact of ongoing declining enrolment.
He says the projected enrolment for September is just over 13,440 students with most of them returning to school while fewer than two percent had opted for remote learning.
Clement adds the board has also included contingencies for virtual learning for all students for one more year if needed.
“More importantly, the budget provides the financial framework to enable the Board to achieve the priorities in its new strategic plan which enters its first full year of implementation,” adds Clement.
There are six priorities in Strategic Directions 2022-2027 – Student Success and Achievement, Literacy and Numeracy, Truth and Reconciliation, Mental Health and Well-Being, Environmental Education and Sustainability, and Equity and Inclusive Education. Rainbow District School Board renewed its strategic plan in the 2021-2022 school year.
Grants for Student Needs (GSNs), which is the base funding provided by the Ministry of Education, have been adjusted to reflect supports for learning recovery and special education, the implementation of the first year of a fully destreamed Grade 9, the delivery of remote learning for one more year, and the maintenance of enhanced cleaning.
The Board is investing in more Special Education Resource Teachers as well as two Literacy Coaches. In addition, Native Studies and Native Languages will become compulsory credits as the Board reaffirms its commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.
Some funding has been transferred to the GSNs, such as the allocation for mental health and well-being. This funding is now being enveloped, which means the funding must be used for school or school board-based mental health staffing, programs and initiatives. A new investment is also being provided for evidence-based mental health programs and resources to support student resilience and well-being.
Additional funding has been allocated for Special Education, including an increase to support more assistive technology for students with special needs. New funding is also being provided to improve broadband, including network connectivity, network infrastructure, network security and related network operations.
Priorities and Partnership Funds, which are outside of the Grants for Student Needs, provide funding for tutoring supports, Indigenous graduation coaches, the mathematics strategy and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, among other initiatives.
In 2022-2023, Rainbow District School Board will receive $15.5 million in school renewal and school condition improvement funding. This represents an increase of $1 million over the 2021-2022 school year.
A total of 75.8 per cent of the budget, or $171.1 million, has been allocated to salaries and benefits. Eight per cent of the budget, or $17.8 million, will go towards supplies and services, which includes the operation and maintenance of facilities, school budgets and computers in schools.
Rainbow District School Board operates 30 elementary school buildings and 9 secondary school buildings in Sudbury, Espanola, and Manitoulin Island.
The Board also offers other programs – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program, Cecil Facer School, N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre, Children’s Treatment Centre, O’Connor Park, Applied Behaviour Analysis program, Restart, Simulated Healthy Independent Living Opportunities (SHILO) program, Attendance Centre, Mishko-Ode-Wendam, Northern Support Initiative, Frank Flowers School and Barrydowne College operating at Cambrian College. The Virtual School will operate for one more year.