Toronto Catholic school board shut put surplus back into schools

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  • October 23, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Fixing up schools, having more special education teachers and fully restoring the controversial Arrowsmith program should be some of the projects funded by the projected budget surplus of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, say education groups.

Murielle Boudreau, chair of the Greater Toronto Catholic Parent Network, says the board is falling behind in its maintenance of schools.

“It’s a well-known fact that our schools are falling apart,” she told The Catholic Register.

Boudreau said the board should also restore reading programs for primary grades and said the Arrowsmith program, which will finish in 2012, should also continue. The program had been cut from the budget, but reinstated for currently enrolled students after a new supervisor was appointed by the Ontario government.

The board has been under provincial supervision since last year in the wake of a trustee spending scandal.

Sandra Pezzione, associate director of business services and the board’s chief financial officer, said the board will be holding four consultations ton its budget. The first meeting will be at a Nov. 14 conference of Catholic parents which will help them become more familiar with the budget process, Pezzione said.

By the end of 2010-2011, the board projects a surplus of about $2 million, rising to $3.3 million by the end of 2011-2012.

A report to the board’s supervisor, Richard Alway, is expected at the end of the consultations.

“We want to get feedback and input from our constituents with respect to how our budget should be spent,” Pezzione said, adding they should last until January.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers union says it has “serious concerns” about special education.

“It continues to leave our neediest students vulnerable,” said union president Anthony Bellissimo.

The union had criticized former supervisor Norbert Hartmann’s budget decisions, including the reassignment of  111 elementary school teachers, 67 of them being special education teachers, in April.

The budget includes: $642.4 million for classroom instruction (teachers, computers, textbooks and supplies, professionals and paraprofessionals and teacher assistants); $224.49 million for in-school administration, teacher consultants and co-ordinators, school operations, continuing education and transportation; and $40.467 million for capital expenditures.

Meeting information can be found at www.tcdsb.org.

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