Toronto, March 25, 2008 – The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association views today?s budget announcement related to 2008-2009 education funding as positive evidence of the provincial government?s solid commitment to the value of a strong publicly funded education system. This funding continues to provide very direct supports for student achievement through strong initiatives in literacy and numeracy, secondary student success initiatives and smaller primary class sizes.
The provincial government’s announced increase in education funding of $315 million represents a 24% increase in investment in student learning over 2003-04 levels. The budget reflects increased funding in Special Education and ESL as well as new funding to support Aboriginal education initiatives, at-risk students, safe schools, school libraries, environmental education, parenting and nutrition programs. Today?s budget announcement also provides welcome news on investment in school building infrastructure, an essential factor in creating positive learning environments for students.
While education funding has been moving in a direction that recognizes the real costs of education delivery, there is more work to be done on aligning benchmarks with current costs. OPSBA looks to the promised comprehensive review of the funding formula to achieve a strong alignment in time for the 2010 school year. A key aspect of this review is the expanding effect that declining enrolment is having on Ontario schools and their goals for student achievement. The announcement that a working group will be established to explore strategies to help boards dealing with these demographic shifts is a welcome move. OPSBA is hopeful that this working group will look at long-term solutions and, in the broad interest of maintaining vibrant communities, involve sectors beyond education.
An obvious focus of attention for school boards this year is the renewal of collective agreements with teachers and support staff. OPSBA is pleased with the government?s commitment to facilitate the conditions that will support labour peace and student achievement over the course of the next four years.
OPSBA looks forward to the specific education funding details set out in the Grants for Student Needs that are expected to be announced tomorrow.
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