Budget challenges for HPEDSB

Budget challenges for the 2023-2024 school year
Posted on 04/26/2023

April 26, 2023—Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board is facing an anticipated budget shortfall for the 2023-2024 school year that is expected to exceed $4 million.

Over the past few months, senior staff have been planning the budget for the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the Physical Planning, Finance and Building Committee. This work occurs every year from January to June. School boards are required to pass a balanced budget by June 30.

The Ministry of Education released funding information on April 17, 2023. This information is available online at Education funding, 2023–24. The projected Grant for Student Needs funding for HPEDSB is $213,616,758, a year-over-year increase of 1%. An additional $3 million is expected through Priorities and Partnerships Funding for priority initiatives.

As noted by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA), the recent funding announcement by the Ministry of Education does not cover the increased inflation costs in a wide variety of budget lines, let alone the rising needs of students following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the toughest budget year that I can recall,” said Nick Pfeiffer, Superintendent of Business Services. “It’s going to be very challenging to present a balanced budget to the Board of Trustees given the changes in funding to school boards.”

The funding challenges include the following:

  • For the past three years, the Ministry of Education has provided school boards with COVID-19 funding. For the current school year, that funding provided HPEDSB with $2.5 million that directly supported over 27 employee positions, including mental health workers. Now, that funding has been entirely removed from the provincial budget.
  • Temporary funding provided in 2022-2023 for tutoring supports and for the revised math strategy was time-limited and is not expected to continue. This is partially offset by new temporary funding for Ministry of Education priorities in reading intervention and math recovery.
  • The Ministry of Education is realigning funding to better support Indigenous education priorities. This results in a projected decrease of $1 million in classroom teacher support for Indigenous Studies courses.
  • The Ministry of Education has developed a new funding model for student transportation which is being implemented for 2023-2024. Although transportation funding has increased from the prior year, it is not sufficient to offset the existing funding shortfall for transportation, nor address the increased enrolment nor the expected increased transportation costs due to inflation. It is expected that the difference between student transportation expenses and funding will continue to be a significant cost pressure for 2023-2024.
  • Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), continues at around 4.5% which impacts transportation costs, building operating costs, and the cost of supplies and services.
  • Supply costs are salaries and benefits for supply and occasional teachers, educators, and other staff who are replaced when absent. The projected supply cost funding continues to be far below the actual supply cost expenses to replace absent employees. It is expected that the difference between supply cost expenses and funding will continue to be a significant cost pressure for 2023-2024.

Ontario school boards are required to pass balanced budgets by the end of June each year. HPEDSB has had deficit budgets for the past two school years, which meant taking from reserve funds to balance the budget.

The funding information recently received from the Ministry is in the process of being incorporated into a draft budget as part of the revenue projections. Ongoing discussions with the Ministry are underway to clarify details. The draft budget will be refined in May, with a final balanced budget being ready for early June.