Toronto, March 26, 2009– The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) views today’s budget announcement related to 2009-2010 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 initiatives in the areas of literacy and numeracy, secondary student success and smaller primary class sizes.
An obvious focus of attention for school boards this past year has been the renewal of collective agreements with teachers and support staff. By fully funding those agreements, the government has facilitated the conditions that engender improved student achievement, enhanced safety and continued labour peace over the course of the next four years.
“Continued stability in our schools and continued growth in student success are deeply connected,” said Colleen Schenk, President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. “OPSBA welcomes the provincial government’s commitment to multi-year funding that supports student success while assisting boards in long-term planning.”
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 will look for resolution on these issues in the comprehensive review of the funding formula in time for the 2010 school year. A key aspect of this review is the significant effect that declining enrolment is having on Ontario schools and their goals for student achievement. As part of the review, OPSBA encourages the government to carefully examine and act on the recommendations in Planning and Possibilities, a report developed and recently released by the Minister’s Declining Enrolment Working Group.
A preliminary analysis of the budget suggests that school boards will be able to claim rebates for the provincial portion of the single sales tax so that the net effect on the sector will be fiscally neutral relative to the amount of Ontario Retail Sales Tax currently paid.
OPSBA recognizes the extraordinary economic conditions that exist today around the world and the impact that the economic uncertainty has had on government revenues. Understanding the financial challenges faced by the provincial government, OPSBA awaits the specific education funding details set out in the Grants for Student Needs that are expected tomorrow.
Last December, the provincial government released a poverty reduction strategy designed to alleviate the suffering of families living in poverty and, in so doing, improving the economic future for all Ontarians. We were particularly heartened that the government’s plan placed a focus on children. There is no question that the economy has significantly worsened since the government first promised to address the poverty issue. OPSBA respectfully encourages the government to stay the course to make sure that children grow up in conditions that give them every possible opportunity to succeed in school and in life.
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