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Enrolment impacts Catholic board budget

As its enrolment continues to slip, the local Catholic school board has approved a balanced budget for the coming school year.
The Wellington Catholic District School Board projects it will have 7,802 students in September. High school enrolment should remain steady, but the 5,332 elementary students who are expected to enroll in September represents a decrease of 193 students, or about 3.5%, a news release said.
“This enrolment pattern is consistent with enrolments across the province,” it noted.
“The impact of declining enrolment affects the board’s ability to offset overhead costs in operating the board,” the release said, while noting that the province provides a “declining enrolment grant” to offset part of the loss of per-pupil funding that comes with lower student numbers. This grant amounts to about $534,000 for the local Catholic board for the coming school year.
The board’s new $97-million budget, approved by trustees earlier this month, includes a 0.5% increase in total expenditures and a 1% increase in revenues compared with the current year.
Increased provincial money for the board for such things as special education and administration, combined with operating efficiencies and expenditure constraints, allowed the board to balance the 2014-15 budget, the release said.
The costs and revenues associated with the fifth and final year of phasing in full-day junior and senior kindergarten are included in the budget, it said.
“In 2014 the board has budgeted $5.5 million for this initiative,” the release said. “In September 2014, the board will have all 17 schools and approximately 873 students in the full-day program.”
As well as grappling with declining enrolment, the board is dealing with ongoing and future budget challenges in the areas of special education, technology, utility costs, and provincial bargaining for new contracts for teachers and other education workers, it said.

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