Toronto, May 4, 2021 – The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) is reviewing the 2021-2022 Grants for Student Needs (GSN) for impacts on school boards across Ontario and is analyzing the announcement to ensure that increases will cover the sector’s most pressing needs for the upcoming school year.
Today’s announcement includes a year-over-year increase of approximately $561 million, to a total of $25.6 billion, with per-pupil funding increasing from $12,525 to $12,686.
“Given the relative uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic, OPSBA is pleased that the government will continue to provide funding for many pandemic-related items, including personal protective equipment, public health nurses, and renewal of technology and devices,” says OPSBA President Cathy Abraham. “With that said, many boards still continue to face funding pressures that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, such as increasing costs for capital projects.”
The mental health and well-being of our students is a significant concern for school boards and trustees across the province. The investments in mental health are welcomed and we look forward to learning more about the details in coming days.
“Many school boards have, as permitted by the Ministry of Education, used reserve funds for pandemic-related expenses,” says President Abraham. “Our members have been seeking full reimbursement of any reserve funds already used, and while the partial reimbursement will be helpful to some boards, other boards will have challenges as these funds are often earmarked for specific future projects.”
Communities and school boards have their own local contexts that must be considered to maximize student outcomes. Funding flexibility is key when trying to ensure that all students are given every opportunity to succeed, and the additional $384 million for flexible staffing will help ensure that boards are giving students the support they need.
School boards are now making decisions for the 2021-22 school year, which include both in-school and remote learning and they need to continue to be part of the discussion about return-to-school planning. In recent days, questions have also been raised about whether a final decision should be made about whether any schools in the province might return to in-person learning before the end of this school year. Throughout the pandemic, OPSBA has consistently emphasized the importance of having students attend school in person, when it is safe to do so. We remain hopeful that circumstances in our communities and our health care system will improve sufficiently to allow a return to in-person learning before the end of the school year. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, school boards are ready and equipped to transition when needed.
For more information, please contact:
Managing Director, Government and Public Affairs
Senior Communications and Policy Officer