WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Greater Essex County District School Board trustees approved an operating budget of around $482 million, which includes new student supports to assist with “success and well-being.”

The GECDSB approved the 2021/22 budget of $482,054,081 on Tuesday for the fiscal period Sept. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022.

“The Operating budget aligns closely with the Board’s Strategic Priorities of demonstrating ethical stewardship, creating confident learners and engaging communities,” an email from GECDSB spokesperson Scott Scantlebury says.

The budget includes a number of initiatives to help support students including investments in an Equity Advisory position, Graduation Coaches, Re-engagement Counsellors and special education supports.

The approved budget includes the addition of a STEPS classroom at Massey Secondary School and two GAINS classrooms at General Brock Public School and Princess Elizabeth Public School.

The board also approved investments in Indigenous education, equity and diversity, and student mental health and well-being. 

Scantlebury says the approved operating budget reflects a deficit of $4,272,908 which will be covered through its operating surplus.

For the same fiscal period the board approved a capital budget of $83,977,275.

“The board is committed to ensuring a healthy school environment through the application and awarding of $15.6 million of funding from COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream,” Scantlebury says.

This includes improvements to building systems through the replacement of mechanical ventilation systems, the addition of new ventilation systems in certain schools, water bottle filling stations, cooling centres, and reducing high-touch surfaces through automatic doors.

The board also aims to create more WIFI access points in its schools and upgrade childcare spaces with separate entrances and washrooms.