The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board recently approved it’s 2019-20 budget setting out more than $72 million in expenditures.
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The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board has passed a budget of more than $72 million for the 2019-20 school year. This includes a shortfall of $164,784 with respect to the amortization of previously approved capital projects. This amount, however, will be covered by board reserves, and is not considered a deficit according to Ministry guidelines and so the board is pleased to file a balanced budget, said chairman David Howard during the budget presentation on June 24.He noted that, in keeping with funding changes announced by the Ministry of Eduction, the number of students in each secondary school classroom will eventually increase to 28 from 22, while teaching positions will be decreased through attrition and voluntary leaves. “This will lead to a loss of 34 classes in our two high schools timetables for the 2019-20 school year,” Howard added in a news release issued by the board. Student achievement and well-being will continue to be the top priorities for the RCCDSB the chairman told fellow trustees at the last regular meeting of the school year.“Our goal is to increase student achievement while passing on the good news of Jesus Christ in a supportive, respectful environment,” he said. “I assure you that despite some reductions in ministry funding and our concerns regarding those, we are presenting a balanced budget overall. This budget allocates our funds to ensure that we can meet the needs of our school communities and provide the best quality education possible for all of our students, while at the same time adhering to ministry guidelines.”Highlights of the budget include $257,000 for a math fundamentals strategy which will provide for a mathematics resource in every Grade 1 to 8 class to assist in curriculum planning, as well as assessment and meeting of individual learning needs. Resources will also be updated in the board’s literacy program to help students improve their writing skills.The board also is increasing assessment efforts and intervention strategies for students with diverse learning needs, Howard said, including those with learning disabilities, English Language Learners and Indigenous students. A full-time position for an expert in Applied Behaviour Analysis will be added to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. As well, new resources will provide for First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives in the Social Studies program, in order to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action.Implementation of the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) assessment for Grade 12 French students will also continue as part of a pilot project with the Ministry of Education. As well, our extended French as a Second Language program will be expanded to Holy Name Catholic School in September. Other important areas of focus in 2019-2020 are outdoor education and experiential learning, Howard said.“These are learning areas that allow us to support the development of the whole child.” He added that funding for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program increased to $106,383. “Student success is a continuing focus for us to ensure that all of our secondary students have a viable pathway towards graduation and, indeed, beyond graduation,” Howard said. He added that the board will continue to have dedicated Student Success teachers in our two secondary schools and we are excited to retain an Experiential Learning co-ordinator, who will provide innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students in Grades 7 to 12. Howard highlighted that the RCCDSB will continue to work with community partners and the board team to enhance access to mental health services for our students and focus on day-to-day classroom strategies and interventions to improve student wellness and resilience for all.Capital projects for the board in 2019-20 include $2.7 million in funding to upgrade school facilities with energy-efficient systems. In partnership with the Renfrew County Child Care Services and the Killaloe Community Resource Centre, the board has also provided surplus space at St. John Bosco Catholic School to create a day-care facility in the Barry’s Bay area.