By Jenn Watt
Trillium Lakelands District School Board is asking the Ministry of Education for permission to access about $3.6 million of its reserves in order to continue providing several supports including instructional coaches student success EAs Tech It Out camp the Edwin initiative (digital learning devices) and other supports.
Ministry guidelines specify that school boards that wish to access reserve funds that exceed one per cent of their operating grants must first receive approval from the province. One per cent for TLDSB is about $1.95 million.
Larry Hope director of education said at the May 28 board meeting that he had received a memo from the ministry saying school boards needed to deliver balanced budgets within three to four years.
“That has never ever been a stipulation” he said “which leads us to believe that reserve funds potentially are in jeopardy that potentially they will be accessed for other purposes. We do believe that we should as a result of our careful stewardship over the years and good decision making at this table and beyond attempt to access at least one per cent perhaps even more [than] the one per cent.”
TLDSB had more than $16 million in its reserves heading into the 2018-2019 year Catherine Shedden district manager of corporate communications for the board said.
“Each year there has been a surplus management plan in place to draw down reserves. And for most years the board ends up not drawing down the reserve and having a surplus instead. This is a result of strategic planning and prudent fiscal management” she said in an email.
Hope’s report on the three-year surplus management plan shows that while some projects are expected to continue forward with the same or similar funding to 2022 others will no longer be funded using reserve funds.
That doesn’t necessarily mean those programs will no longer be funded. Some are being funded from other sources. Others were only meant to be short-term projects and won’t continue into coming years Shedden said.
“The surplus management plan provides an opportunity for funding new initiatives and programs. But the intention in some cases is for the initiative to be a one- or two-year item or that funding will be found elsewhere for the program to continue” she said.
The Ministry of Education had not yet provided all funding information for the coming year so Shedden said she was not able to give a list of programs running.