Trustees of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, at the June 20th meeting of the Board, approved a balanced operating budget of $352,418,260 and a capital budget of $29,680,027 for the 2017/2018 school year.
Budget priorities, developed in consultation with board stakeholder groups, continue to focus on programs and initiatives that foster faith formation, religious education, improvement in achievement, equity in opportunity, and excellence in academic and co-curricular programs, as well as enhancements to school facilities.
Expressing pride in the board’s efforts to remain on a strong financial foundation, Chairperson Patrick J. Daly indicated, “Our system’s long-standing commitment to good stewardship is crucial to the investments outlined in this good news budget.”
“This was not, and could not have been accomplished without the commitment and work of Director of Education David Hansen, Senior Superintendent of Business and Treasurer Paola Pace-Gubekjian, Finance staff, Senior Administration, and the important cooperation of employee groups and staff throughout our school system,” he commended.
Although a balanced budget was recommended, Daly cautioned that local and provincial financial challenges should not be underestimated. Despite the very real financial challenges experienced by the board, the 2017/2018 budget continues “to fly to the centre of things,” he added, quoting words of encouragement offered by His Eminence, Cardinal Thomas Collins to Catholic school trustees at a recent presentation: “Know who we are, where we come from and where we are going.”
The budget as recommended “builds on the strong foundation of Christ-centred education, maintains past investments, and includes a number of significant targeted enhancements which provide a plan for where we are going,” said Daly.
A list of discretionary items approved by the board includes, but is not limited to, funding to support the Equal Opportunities Project, Reading Recovery Program, Educational Assistants, Special Education Resource Teachers, Culture of Life, additional Junior-Intermediate Division Teachers and other support and administrative staff, Outdoor Education Program/experiences, diversity camps and retreat opportunities for students, Robotics, Secondary Arts Program, Roots of Empathy and Restorative Justice, Early Years, and Physical Literacy initiatives.
In the spirit of “Flying to the centre of things,” the budget includes a number of new investments that provide unprecedented support for the board’s mission. Strategic increases were provided in funding/resources that promote Faith Formation & Religious Education; Catholic Identity; Academic Excellence and continuous improvement; Equity in Educational Opportunity; preferential option for the disadvantaged and Christian Service; and improvements/upgrades to the condition of school buildings and properties. Other investments were made in textbooks and learning materials, and additional staff.
The HWCDSB also approved $2.3-million for the installation of artificial turf playing fields at Cathedral High School and St. Mary Catholic Secondary School.
“A projected increase in enrolment has provided additional funding that has helped, in part, the Board maintain discretionary programs and offer enhancements while still being fiscally responsible and filing a balanced budget,” said Senior Superintendent of Business and Treasurer, Paola Pace-Gubekjian.
In final comments, the Chairperson spoke to the importance of good stewardship, and expressed words of gratitude to Finance staff, especially Senior Superintendent of Business and Treasurer Paola Pace-Gubekjian for her leadership and tireless work.
“It is my prayer that the vision and fruits of our recommended 2017/2018 budget ‘flies to the centre of things’ so as to enable all students to realize their fullness of humanity of which Jesus Christ is the model.”