Public board approves budget

Sam Odrowski

The Rainy River District School Board approved its 2018-19 budget during a special meeting held at the Education Centre here last Tuesday.
The approved budget was balanced and represented a total of more than $56.33 million–a four percent increase over last year’s budget.
A majority of the board’s expenses come from paying salaries/wages, which totals a little over $34.88 million.
Benefits cost roughly $5.61 million, supplies were budgeted for more than $4 million, transportation fees came in just under $3.54 million, and amortization totals about $3.82 million.
The remaining $4.5 million will be spent on professional development, utilities, fees and services, and capital debt.
Superintendent of Business Laura Mills said this year’s budget reflects the board’s strategic plan, which focuses on “A Culture of Lifelong Learning and A Culture of Caring.”
“We ensure that the programming and the expenditures that we’re putting in place focus on the strategic plan,” she noted.
Mills said there’s lots to be excited about in the 2018-19 budget, with sizeable staffing increases from last year.
“We found that the budget for next year is very ‘good news,’ and supporting a lot of our programs and initiatives,” she enthused.
“There’s additional staffing in the budget of 11.66 and there’s additional supports for special education, in particular for mental health services and social work services,” she added.
The staffing increases also will employ more teachers, education assistants, professional/para-professional services in the schools, and teacher co-ordinators across the district’s public schools.
Other highlights in this year’s budget that align with the strategic plan include continued support for the Renewed Math Strategy, Reading Recovery, and Speech Language programming.
While the budget is balanced, this year’s statements will require Ministry of Education approval because funds are being drawn out of the board’s accumulated surpluses to fund retirement gratuities.
As well, Mills noted the board also will be pulling funds from the accumulated surplus for specialized programming.
The board expects to receive ministry approval by late July.