The Sudbury Catholic District School Board has cut roughly $1.2 million out of its 2012-2013 budget, leaving a $900,000 surplus.
The board's trustees approved the revised budget at their Jan. 22 meeting, although board staff had already submitted the plan to the Ministry of Education at the end of December, albeit with strict instructions from trustees.
Board chair Jody Cameron said the trustees decided it was necessary to not only avoid a deficit, but to leave the wiggle room of a surplus because of “uncertainties” brought on by Bill 115.
While teachers' pay has been frozen under the controversial bill, they're still allowed to move up in the pay grid, he said.
“But the province isn't funding the movement in the grids,” Cameron said. “So that's going to be an additional cost to the board. We're not quite sure what that impact is going to be just yet.
“We've put in a buffer of approximately $900,000 to ensure that we can meet those requirements of those new agreements under Bill 115.”
So far, there hasn't been any job cuts, and the board took care to mitigate the impact on students, he said.
The board started its cost restraints by spending $200,000 instead of $800,000 this year on technology. It is also cutting back on some office and classroom supplies.
The board will also require some of its non-union staff, including senior administrators, to take three unpaid days off.
Non-union staff will also be required to take all of their vacation time, as accumulated vacation time shows up as a liability on the books.
As well, when a staff member accompanies students attending out-of-school extracurricular activities such as tournaments and competitions, the board will attempt to avoid hiring supply teachers, Cameron said.
Now that the board has submitted a revised 2012-2013 budget, it's time to chip away at its accumulated $2.5-million deficit, he said.
The deficit came about because of lower-than-expected enrolment at the board's schools, which led to a decrease in provincial grants, and higher-than-budgeted supply teacher and retirement gratuity costs.
Cameron said the board hopes to have a three-year deficit reduction plan complete by the beginning of March.
He said the plan will be developed with some “guiding principles” in mind, including mitigating the impact on students and staff. Whenever possible, job cuts will be done through attrition, Cameron said.
“We want to make sure that we continue to be open and transparent with all of our staff,” he said.
“We've been sending out fact sheets and we've been sending out letters, and we've been meeting with all of the different stakeholders in the board, just to ensure that they're fully apprised of what's going on.
“We're going to continue that engagement and consultation for the next couple of months.”