$8M funding cut causing problems at Lambton-Kent public board

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BLAKE ELLIS/LOCAL JOURNALISM INITIATIVE

Budgeting is more difficult for the Lambton Kent School District this year as its funding has been reduced by $8 million, approximately 2.5 percent of this year’s $325 million budget. Funding has been reduced for three sources, THE COVID 19 Learning Recovery Fund, transportation and the Indigenous Education Grant. 

While it was expected the COVID 19 Learning Recovery Fund would not be available to school districts in the coming year, it was the reduction in funding to the transportation and Indigenous education grant, which has made the situation dire.  

Lambton Kent School District will no longer receive any funding from the Covid 19 Learning Recovery Fund. The school board received $3.3 million in this current school year. 

The administration says there are sizable cuts in provincial funding of 63 percent from the Indigenous Education Grant and a 21 percent cut in transportation funding.  Transportation funding will also be reduced by $3 million and the Indigenous Education Grant reduced by $1.7 million.

In the 2022-23 school year, a total of $13.8 million was received for transportation from the provincial government while $2.7 million was received from the Indigenous Education Grant. 

Lambton Kent School Board’s Associate Director Brian McKay said the school board has never had an problem balancing the transportation portion of the budget. While the proposed budget is 2.5 percent in a deficit, he hopes the school district can get it down to one percent of the budget. 

Trustee David Shortt wants the school board to speak up about the funding cut. Chair Randy Campbell will be writing a letter to the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and the school board will be requesting meetings with ministry staff about the cuts.

Another letter will also be written about the cut in funding about the Indigenous Education Fund. Trustee Roberta Northmore said this reduction in funding will force the school board to regress especially with the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Actions, in particular 62.1 where the school district is to make age appropriate curriculum on residential schools, treaties and Aboriginal people’s historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students.

The budget will be presented to the school board at its first meeting in June.