The Toronto District School Board will be trimming another $7-million from its budget, on top of making $16.5-million in cuts to balance its budget.
Roughly 260 jobs had been eliminated, including about 50 special-education positions. But to achieve the new savings, the board will also not be filling some jobs that come open mid-year, says trustee Robin Pilkey.
When the board passed the budget in mid-March, with its job cuts, it hadn't yet heard what allocation it would get from the province. Those numbers came in last week, and after analyzing them, the TDSB says it will have to make up another $7-million.
The board doesn't expect to have to reopen its budget process, but will rather find the savings during the school year, said spokesman Ryan Bird.
It's too early to know what kind of jobs would be left unfilled to save money, said Ms. Pilkey. The number is manageable in the context of the board's $3-billion budget, she said, and trustees were "pleased" that financial staff had estimated the provincial budget so accurately.
"We were very close if you think of the whole size of the whole budget," she said.
Budget timing is tricky for the school board. Under its collective agreements, it has to make staffing decisions in March. But the province doesn't release the size of its funding grants until about two weeks later.
That means the board can't now find the $7-million savings up front by increasing the number of job cuts. It expected to make those original job cuts through attrition rather than layoffs.
Still, "staff is fairly confident we can find these savings," said Ms. Pilkey.
Partly because of the school board's timing, the Education Ministry announces its budget numbers before other provincial ministries. At the time of the announcement, minister Liz Sandals stressed that the funding formula was changing to reduce the practice of subsidizing empty or underused schools.
The TDSB is affected by those changes more than most boards. A fifth of its schools are less than 65 per cent full, the board's benchmark for underuse, while a 10th of the province's schools are underused at 50-per-cent capacity or less.
However, other aspects of the province's budget reorganization benefited the TDSB, particularly a windfall of $83-million for routine maintenance.