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GECDSB trustees vote to preserve jobs despite $6.4 million deficit

Greater Essex County District School Board office shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. (Christie Bezaire / CTV Windsor) Greater Essex County District School Board office shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. (Christie Bezaire / CTV Windsor)
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Trustees with the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) voted Wednesday night to save jobs instead of shrinking next year’s deficit.

Deep into budget talks, the board is heading towards the 2024-25 school year with a $6.4 million shortfall.

Administration recommended firing 20 fulltime employees, mostly in-school support workers, to shrink that deficit to roughly $4.5 million – but trustees opted not to make those cuts.

They faced three options going into a special meeting Wednesday night:

  1. Make no changes, running the full $6.4-million deficit,
  2. Completely balance the budget by cutting 65 positions, or
  3. Follow staff’s recommendation to cut 20 positions, saving $1.9 million.

After hearing from five delegations – all passionately opposed to the recommended third option – Trustee Kim McKinley put a motion on the floor to opt for option one.

“Not for a split second do I believe that our current deficit is a result of our choices,” McKinley said.

Trustees then spoke to the motion, with Julia Burgess saying the need for those support workers is clear.

She also pointed out the GECDSB will not be the only board coming up short this side of the pandemic.

“We're going to be playing catch up for quite a few years,” she said. “We're still reducing 12 little things and some of them are multiples on those lines. I think those reductions are going to make an impact already.”

“And I think that's as far as I want to go,” said Burgess.

The trustees will convene again on June 18 to make final budgetary decisions.

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