The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) views today's Grants for Student Needs (GSN) announcement as evidence of the provincial government's continued commitment to the value of a strong publicly funded education system. Continued stability in our schools is an essential foundation for student success and well-being. OPSBA welcomes the provincial government's commitment to sustainable funding that reflects our shared focus on positive learning environments for Ontario's children and youth.
School boards are responsible for the delivery of educational programs and services that promote student achievement and well-being. OPSBA has taken every available opportunity over the last year to bring education funding issues before the Ministers of Education and Finance and their staff. The Association's contributions to the GSN process culminated in a brief presented prior to the release of this year's GSN. The brief reflected the advice of school trustees, educators and school business officials on pressing funding concerns.
"We recognize that financial constraints impact government revenues," said OPSBA President Michael Barrett. "Within these constraints, today's funding reinforces a strong school environment and the growth of student success. While this is true, many of our member boards have already been absorbing reductions in other budget areas and this has had an impact on their flexibility. All these budget pieces work together."
This year's GSN continues to focus on underutilized space in schools through the further reduction in funding supports for school facilities operation and renewal. The reduction in funding support for school operations and renewal combined with an absence of viable alternative uses for underutilized space in schools may cause immediate budget challenges for some school boards and could accelerate the number of school accommodation reviews and school closures.
The Ministry has also released a new Pupil Accommodation Review Guideline and a Community Planning and Partnerships Guideline. OPSBA is supportive of the government's priority to create community hubs. The concept of sharing school space presents exciting possibilities, but involves considerations that go beyond whether space is being used efficiently. The need for coordination and incentive among various entities - provincial ministries, local municipalities, other school boards, and social service agencies - is but one of many challenges.
OPSBA is committed to working with the government and our provincial education partners to resolve issues and set directions based on a common commitment of offering the students of Ontario full opportunity to reach their rich potential.
For more information, please contact:Jeff Sprang Director of Communications Ontario Public School Boards' Associationjsprang@opsba.org (416) 340-2540, ext. 111 www.opsba.org