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Lower enrolment for Waterloo Region District School Board creates expected deficit

Lower student enrollment during COVID-19 has resulted in a decrease in government funding to the tune of $5.3 million
Waterloo Region District School Board (winter)
CityNews file photo

Lower student enrolment during COVID-19, has resulted in a decrease in government funding for Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB).

The Board of Trustees of the WRDSB approved the 2021-22 operating budget on June 16, 2021, and at that time the expected in-year deficit was $6.62M, or 0.8 per cent of operating revenues.

A key budget risk in the 2021-22 budget identified by staff was reduced enrolment creating a financial and operational risk to the organization.

Student enrolment is the primary driver of funding through Grants for Student Needs (GSN). The financial impact of reduced enrolment results in a revenue decrease of $5.3 million, or 0.71 per cent of provincial grant (GSN) revenues.

Total enrolment is projected to be 534 full-time equivalent (FTE) students lower than the budget forecast; a decrease of 0.8% compared to the enrolment forecast used for budget.

Further expected revenue reductions include approximately $39,700 per day, from a prolonged shut-down of the board’s before and after school programs. 

For the period Sept. 1, 2021 to Nov. 30, 2021, average enrolment in the board’s extended day program was 1,439 full-time equivalent (FTE) students; this is roughly on target with our budget forecast for the year, but is well below our pre-pandemic average of 1,996 full-time equivalent (FTE) students.

Total expenditures on classroom teachers are projected to be $1.18 million higher than the budget forecast, an increase of 0.3 per cent.

Taking into account targeted funding from the province to support school boards dealing with increased costs due to the pandemic, financial results up to November, WRDSB expects to finish the year in a deficit position.

This was confirmed through submission of the revised estimates to the Ministry of Education  on December 15, 2021, which shows an in-year deficit forecast of $11.6M, including board funded COVID-19 expenses of $7.43M.

To view the full 2021-22 Interim Financial Report and Forecast, look here