TDSB calls for new provincial funding structure to deal with budget shortfall

The TDSB is making a final plea to the Ford government for a new deal that will help dig them out of a 26.5 million dollar budget hole. But as Tina Yazdani reports, the education minister has accused the board of mismanaging its budget.

Calls for a new funding structure as the Toronto District School Board grapples with a nearly $27 million budget shortfall.

The Board says despite finding almost $17 million in savings in its latest budget deliberations, it is calling on the Ford government to come to the table with new ideas and more money to help with its structural deficit, which they say amounts to more than its deficit.

“The Board continues to do its part. We are making reductions and finding efficiencies but we also know that there are so few places left to go and we want to minimize the impact felt by students in the classroom,” said TDSB chair Rachel Chernos Lin.

Earlier this month the TDSB passed several measures to address its 2024-25 budget deficit including a reduction in central staffing, replacement costs related to sick leave and decreased spending on absenteeism, filling vacancies and contracts. It also called for the Ministry of Education to lift its moratorium on school closures, however, that proposal was quickly vetoed by the government.

Education minister Stephen Lecce indicated there would be no more money coming from the government.

“We are giving school boards more funding even though there are fewer students in the system, particularly the TDSB. We expect school boards to balance their budgets and put students academic achievement as the foremost priority,” said Lecce, speaking outside the provincial legislature on Wednesday.

“The message to the TDSB is that they have 100 million-plus more dollars and 10,000 fewer students. They need to exercise leadership and actually get back to the basics of education in Ontario classrooms.”

As a result of its deficit, the TDSB is being forced to consider scaling back or even shuttering several of its programs, including Seniors’ Daytime programming, and increasing permit fees for community groups using its facilities.

“The TDSB requires a new deal – a new deal that acknowledges the challenges that are unique to our students and our communities,” said Chernos Lin. “Ministry benchmarks within all of the grants must be adjusted to include the true cost of operating in Toronto. We cannot continue to operate under outdated funding models that fail to address our students’ current and future needs accordingly.”

The TDSB will host three public consultations in the next two weeks to get public feedback on its current budget crisis.

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