Toronto Catholic District School Board in Financial Freefall

TORONTO – Judging from the 2023-24 Revised Budget Estimates (RBE) [being] presented to the Board of Trustees yesterday (December 14, 2023, for readers today), the Directorship of Brendan Browne has been nothing short of an unmitigated fiscal mismanagement.
The RBE claims that in 2019-20, the TCDSB enjoyed an accumulated surplus balance in excess of $100 million. As of the 2nd Quarter of 2022-23, it declared an “in-year deficit of $42.3 million”. In just over three years of Director Browne’s administration, the accumulated surplus had been reduced to $24 million. For 2023-24, the adjusted in-year deficit is projected to be $58 million.

The RBE states that this is due to [several] unfunded pressures. Unfunded suggests that the Ministry staff at Queen’s Park had not foreseen “needs” (if they existed) and had not made financial decisions to fund them. Any Board’s planning team of experts (demographers, accountants, government relations consultants, lawyers, superintendents etc.) knows that before recommending expenditures, they must check the availability of income first. Otherwise, they may be compelled to ask forgiveness – that comes at a price.

Here are some of those “prices” they speculate will kick in: (1) Ministerial in year-deficit approval now required, (2) declaration of a cumulative deficit position – suggests a distrust in their bookkeeping, (3) Ministry demand the TCDSB develop, and file for approval, a multi-year financial recovery plan – how to pay back over expenditures, (4) a requirement that interim financial reporting take place monthly instead of quarterly, and, (5) a “special assistance team”, tasked with [making] “suggestions and directives”. In brief, the Ministry has lost faith in their competence to deliver the product.

There is a first step one can read into Motions regarding what can be discussed in camera and what should be public. In camera discussions are designed to keep the public in the dark. Administrative staff, through trustees, do not seem interested in transparency and accountability. Now we have evidence of the consequences.

Since 2019-20, under Brendan Browne (in the pic above, from Twitter X), the student population (average daily attendance) accessing the TCDSB has dropped from 89,923 to 83,026. Since every student attracts $13,379 in Grants for Student Needs, Ministry officials may also be asking how quickly they need to act on all five “prices” above. How will the trustees vote?

Staff Report to TCDSB on December 14 (from TCDSB website)