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Job cuts loom at London area schools as Thames Valley board tries to reduce $18M budget deficit | CBC News

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More than 100 staff members at the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) could lose their jobs as the London region’s largest school board attempts to reduce its projected $18 million budget deficit to $7.6 million. 

A new budget report projects that 126 full-time equivalent positions across the board may be impacted, with the removal of 58 elementary and 24 high school jobs making up the bulk of the cuts.  

The $1.2 billion preliminary budget for the 2024-2025 school year was sent to trustees last week. It shows the TVDSB is in a structural deficit requiring the board to make “difficult decisions and a prioritization of resources”.  

“Due to significant and ongoing budget pressures currently experienced by school boards across the province, including Thames Valley, this year’s process will be particularly challenging,” said Lori-Ann Pizzolato, chair of the committee overseeing the budget in the report.

“If funding shortfalls continue, we will continue to face serious challenges serving the needs of Thames Valley schools, staff, and communities.”

Seventeen early childhood educator jobs may also be at risk of elimination, along with student and teacher support services, psychological and speech services. 

TVDSB also plans to cut approximately $3 million in operating expenses across all departments. 

TVDSB is the fourth largest school board in Ontario, with more than 85,000 students and more than 14,000 staff members. Board chair Beth Mai wasn’t immediately available for comment, but this story will be updated on Monday with her response. 

Budget risks and pressures 

Budget pressures are partly due to a $1.6 million increase in employment insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) expenses, inflationary and contractual increases, and a number of increases in the information and technology (IT) department. Consistently increasing enrolment projections and special education expenses are other areas of pressure outlined in the report.

The special education deficit is projected at $3.3 million and it “recognizes TVDSB’s ongoing commitment to supporting programs and services for our students with complex learning needs,” the report said. 

Staff absence replacements play a significant role in ongoing budget challenges, representing $35.2 million this year — up from $22.4 million in 2023-2024.

“This is considered a risk given the continuation of the sick and short-term leave program and the potential increase in the number and cost of replacement staff required,” the report said. 

The board is projected to have only $3.6 million in accumulated surplus by Aug. 31 that will go toward paying down the deficit. Staff are also requesting an additional $12.5 million from the Ministry of Education which requires school boards to have their budgets balanced by the 2026-2027 school year.

Since this year’s deficit is greater than the one per cent of operating revenue requirement from the Ministry, TVDSB will need to submit a deficit recovery plan with the approved budget. 

Community members can provide public input and make presentations at a committee meeting on June 11. The board will give the budget a final approval on June 25.

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