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Ottawa Catholic School Board eyes reserves to balance 2023-24 budget

An empty classroom at an elementary school in Simcoe County. (CTV News/Rob Cooper) An empty classroom at an elementary school in Simcoe County. (CTV News/Rob Cooper)

The Ottawa Catholic School Board is planning to dip into reserves to balance its budget for the next school year.

Trustees will receive the $649-million budget for the 2023-24 school year on Tuesday night for debate and approval.

"This budget provides for minimal additional spending as compared to prior years and focuses on maintaining spending on areas of strategic priorities achieved through the savings from efficiencies and expenditure reductions," Director of Education Tom D'Amico says in an overview of the budget.

The budget provides for an enrolment projection of 47,639 students for the new school year, an increase of 2.4 per cent (1,119 additional students) over 2022-23.

According to staff, the budget includes funding for 124.6 new full-time equivalent staffing positions, including 54 education assistants and two mental health workers.

The report says the budget continues investment from board funds for professionals and resources to support students and staff, including 18 new employees for a mental health team and a $100,000 wellness fund initiative for school staff.

The budget also includes a $7.5 million multi-year investment in outdoor learning spaces and WiFi to allow schools to "incorporate new innovative ideas" into outdoor learning spaces.

The budget will use $5.9 million from reserves to balance the budget.  The Ministry of Education allows boards to use reserves to balance a budget deficit within one per cent.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board continues debate on its 2023-24 budget. Staff are proposing $19 million in cuts and savings to balance the budget, including eliminating 21 teaching positions and a reduction in budgets for each school. Top Stories

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