McGuinty government announces significant new funding for Ontario students



    Rising Achievement Shows Government Reaching Every Student

    TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - Ontario students are set for a fourth year of
rising achievement, thanks to the McGuinty government's significant investment
in our schools, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced today.
    "Our students are doing better because of our ambitious program of
education investment and reform," said Wynne. "Funding for the next school
year reinforces our strategy with new resources and a funding formula that
reflects the changing needs of our schools."
    In order for school boards to have more time to plan, the government
announced funding as early as possible in the year. The government's education
investment of $18.3 billion in 2007-08 is an increase of $781 million over
last year. Since 2002-03, funding has increased by $3.5 billion - a 24 per
cent increase, or the equivalent of a $2,000 increase per student.

    
    The government's commitment and investments in education in Ontario's
publicly funded schools are paying off for students:

    -   Scores are up: Over the last four years, more students in Grades 3
        and 6 are doing better at reading, writing and math - their results
        in provincial tests have improved by 10 percentage points. As well,
        more Grade 9 students are meeting the standard on the applied and
        academic math tests - up 14 and 5 percentage points, respectively.
        Furthermore, the number of Grade 10 students passing the literacy
        test is up 12 percentage points.
    -   Graduation rates are up: Over the past two years, the rate has
        increased from 68 to 73 per cent - meaning 12,000 more students now
        have a diploma and are better prepared for the future. Early
        indicators show that more Grade 9 and 10 students are completing all
        of their courses and are on track to graduate.
    -   Class sizes are smaller: Almost all students in junior kindergarten
        to Grade 3 are learning in classes of 23 or fewer students - 65 per
        cent are in classes of 20 or fewer - and getting more individual
        attention.
    

    The government has listened to school boards and made changes to
education funding that address the system's needs. In response, and to
continue supporting higher student achievement, new funding will be allocated
to support these further changes to the education funding formula. Highlights
include three new grants to provide targeted funding to schools and students
identified by our education partners:

    
    -   Program Enhancement Grant: to support arts, music, physical education
        and outdoor education activities that provide students with a well-
        rounded educational experience
    -   Supported Schools Allocation: to ensure schools in small communities
        with low or declining enrolments remain viable
    -   First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Supplement: to provide
        enhanced support for aboriginal students.

    Since 2003, the McGuinty government has made 10 significant improvements
to how funding is delivered through the funding formula. Those improvements
continue in 2007-08 with the additional three grants and funding for the
following:

    -   1,900 new primary class size, elementary specialist and student
        success teachers
    -   Three per cent salary increase for all staff
    -   Additional support for special education
    -   Additional support for rising transportation and utility costs
    -   Targeted support for French-language boards
    

    "This government's record of improving the funding formula means students
around the province are getting better support now than they were four years
ago," said Wynne. "Now, our principals, teachers and education workers have
more of the tools they need to reach every student and help them to achieve
their full potential."
    As in previous years, the government will also invest more than
$200 million in 2007-08 outside of the grants to support priorities such as
safe schools, literacy and numeracy and parent engagement.
    "The last four years in Ontario's publicly funded education system have
seen a significant improvement in student outcomes, but we want to go even
further," said Wynne. "We will continue working with our education partners -
teachers, principals, other education staff, school boards, parents and
communities - and continue our focus to help all students reach their
potential."

    
    Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
                           www.ontario.ca/progress


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

         THREE NEW GRANTS ARE LATEST IMPROVEMENTS TO FUNDING FORMULA
    

    Ontario's students deserve an education system that is the best in the
world. That's why the government is continually reviewing the funding formula
so it is as effective and responsive as possible to the changing needs of
students, teachers and school communities.
    Improvements to our education funding formula are never "finished." As
the needs of students and communities change, the funding formula is refined
on an annual basis to meet those needs.
    Since taking office, the McGuinty government has worked closely with the
education sector to make meaningful changes to the funding formula that help
improve student achievement and promote and maintain a stable learning
environment.

    NEW REFORMS THIS YEAR

    The McGuinty government has made 10 significant changes to the funding
formula since coming to office in 2003. Building on those improvements, the
McGuinty government is further refining the funding formula this year. Three
new grants have been created that will help school boards deliver improved
support to Ontario's students.

    1. Program Enhancement Grant ($35 million)
    ------------------------------------------

    The new Program Enhancement Grant reflects Ontario's commitment to
supporting a well-rounded education. This grant will support programs and
activities such as arts, music, physical education and outdoor education.
Boards may use this grant to fund or enrich existing programs or to offer new
ones. The grant will be allocated to school boards through a per-school amount
of $7,500. Each board will have the flexibility to decide how to use this
funding to best suit its students' needs.

    2. Supported Schools Allocation ($10 million)
    ---------------------------------------------

    The government is introducing the Supported Schools Allocation of the
Geographic Circumstances Grant to expand its school-based support for small
Ontario communities where schools have low enrolment and are a significant
distance from other schools of the board. This additional funding will benefit
177 schools.

    
    "Supported Schools" will receive ongoing funding for teacher staffing and
school operations costs. Supported schools are defined as:
    -   Elementary schools that are 30 kilometres or more from other
        elementary schools of the board
    -   Secondary schools that are 60 kilometres or more from other secondary
        schools of the board.
    

    Boards will receive funding for a minimum of 7.5 teachers at supported
elementary schools of at least 50 students. Boards will receive funding for a
minimum of 14 teachers at supported secondary schools of at least 50 students.
The funding provided by this new allocation will ensure that boards can
support viable and vibrant schools in small Ontario communities.

    3. First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Supplement ($10.5 million)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    To support the goal of improved achievement for First Nations, Métis and
Inuit students, the government is introducing a new $10.5 million grant. This
will help boards offer and expand Native Language and Native Studies courses,
and support programs that assist aboriginal students.

    OTHER CHANGES

    In addition to the three new grants, the government's new investment in
2007-08 also includes:

    
    -   Support for 1,900 new teachers
    -   A three per cent salary increase negotiated in the labour framework
    -   Increased funding for special education
    -   Increased funding to recognize the rising costs of transportation and
        utilities
    -   Additional support for French-language boards.


    Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
                           www.ontario.ca/progress


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

             TEN IMPROVEMENTS TO THE FUNDING FORMULA SINCE 2003

    Changes to the grants in 2007-08, including the three new grants created,
top off the government's 10 key improvements to the funding formula:

    1)  More teachers - both in elementary and secondary schools
        -  We are funding 4,800 teachers to reduce class sizes at the primary
           level
        -  We are funding 1,900 new elementary specialist teachers for art,
           music, physical education, language and core subjects such as
           English, science and math
        -  We are funding 1,900 student success teachers to help more high
           school students graduate.
    2)  Peace and stability - addressing Dr. Mordechai Rozanski's major
        findings by updating and increasing salary benchmarks to fund four-
        year agreements. For the first time in almost a decade, boards don't
        have to use funding from other budget lines to pay for teacher
        salaries.
    3)  Responding to local needs - changing the "one size fits all" formula
        to recognize the unique needs of:
        -  Northern and rural boards to protect small schools from closing
        -  French-language boards with additional support for early learning
           programs, more teachers and a new school construction program
        -  Boards with declining enrolment with funding support to recognize
           that costs decline slower than revenue
        -  All boards by creating the Program Enhancement Grant
    4)  Meeting student needs - increasing funding for students at risk,
        English-as-a-Second-Language and Perfectionnement-du-français
        programs and creating the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education
        Supplement.
    5)  Reflecting real costs - increasing benchmarks for fuel, utilities,
        salaries, benefits and other costs
    6)  Providing school-based funding - creating the $1 billion School
        Foundation Grant so small schools and schools with declining
        enrolment get the stable funding they need and creating the Supported
        Schools Allocation
    7)  Renewing our schools - funding a $4 billion investment to repair,
        rebuild and expand schools, and providing funding to make schools
        healthier and safer for students and staff
    8)  Reforming special education - increasing the number of high-needs
        students receiving support, increasing funding for high-needs
        students at boards with growing enrolment and providing stable
        funding for high-needs students at boards with decreasing enrolment
    9)  Improving transportation funding - encouraging boards to work
        together to improve service for students and to reduce costs
    10) Strengthening school-community partnerships - introducing annual
        funding to reduce fees that community groups pay to use schools after
        hours and providing funding to encourage parent engagement.
    

    These changes have been driven by proven strategies to improve student
achievement and by the recognition of school boards' costs. Through all these
changes, the government has made the funding system more transparent so that
parents and the community can now clearly see how boards are spending the
funding they receive.
    These changes have created the best alignment between education funding
and school costs since the funding formula was introduced in 1998. The formula
recognizes that while some costs are similar around the province, some costs
differ depending on the size of the board, the number and location of its
schools and the characteristics of the student population. The formula
reflects those differences so that all students receive the support they need
to reach their full potential.

    
    Disponible en français

                              www.edu.gov.on.ca
                           www.ontario.ca/progress
    




For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676; Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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Ontario Ministry of Education

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