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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

School Board Faces Massive Deficit

Owen Sound | by James Greensmith  

Bluewater School Board meets with stakeholders to discuss 4.3 million dollar deficit.

The Bluewater District School Board has a lot of tough decisions to make, and not a lot of time to make them.

The Board held a budget meeting on Monday night at Hillcrest Elementary in Owen Sound, to discuss ways of producing a balanced budget by the June 30th deadline.

As it stands now -- the board is facing a 4.3 million dollar deficit, and must come within one per cent of a fully balanced budget.

If that figure is not met -- it could mean a monetary penalty, and therefore even less cash and resources going forward.

Business Committee Chair Dan Wong says a large part of the problem is declining enrolment at a number of schools, which lowers the Grant For Student Needs Funding available from the Ministry of Education.

Wong says schools in the Bluewater District currently sit at 31 per cent vacancy.

Further complicating matters is the fact that 71 per cent of the budget is tied up in staff salaries and benefits, and only two per cent is available for discretionary spending.

Wong says the trustees will have to make some very difficult decisions, but at the end of the day -- there will have to be some cuts to student programs.

He adds the Board is confident they can move some money around and make the figures work.

Another budget meeting will be held May 24th to delve further into the issue, and to get a better idea of ways to generate revenue and cut costs.


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