The public school board will spend $1.6 million to hire permanent social workers, psychological and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists to help students needing special education supports.
As part of its 2023-24 operating budget of $1.6 billion, approved June 20, the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) will also carry over revenue from the previous year to continue supporting Indigenous education programs.
“I want to thank staff, trustees and community who supported this important process in developing our 2023-2024 budget, centring student achievement and well-being as our core mandate,” says board chair Ron Lynn. “The budget reflects an alignment with our priorities as a school board, the feedback we heard from our school community and our commitment to offer high-quality education.”
The board has also earmarked funds to support ‘Empower and Primary Literacy Teachers’ to help students with early literacy. ‘Destreaming Coaches,’ meanwhile, will help elementary students transition into high school and help secondary students in destreamed classes, including mathematics.
(After years of calls from some educators and advocacy groups to end the practice, the Ontario government did away with academic streaming in Grade 9 beginning in the 2021-2022 school year. Ontario was one of the few places in Canada that continued to separate students into the hands-on applied stream and the post-secondary-track academic stream when they started high school.)
The board will fund 33 Special Education Resource Teachers to assist students with special education needs transition to fully-integrated classrooms. Budget highlights also include $600,000 toward staffing and resources to support multiple language students.
“The 2023-2024 budget includes important investments in programs and services designed to meet the diverse needs of our learners,” says associate director and chief financial officer Vidyia Maharaj. “Our budget process reflects our commitment as an organization to model ethical leadership, listen to the voices in our community, and be transparent and fiscally responsible.”
The YRDSB is the third largest school district in Ontario with more than 126,000 students in 180 elementary schools and 33 secondary schools. Its budget includes a projected deficit of $12.9 million – a reduction compared to the prior year’s budget. To achieve a balanced operating budget for the upcoming school year and comply with Ministry of Education requirements, the budget incorporates a “moderate use” of reserves, the board reports.