NSSBA says $30 million additional investment needed for education



    HALIFAX, Nov. 1 /CNW/ - The Nova Scotia School Boards Association (NSSBA)
says an additional $30 million above base costs is needed to continue
improving our public education system and to help students achieve better
results in school.
    "We want to ensure that education remains a priority as the government
decides how it will spend taxpayers' money in the 2008-2009 budget," says
NSSBA President Elliott Payzant.
    Payzant says the NSSBA will underline the need for further funding during
the Premier's Forum on Student Achievement, which is being held at Citadel
High School in Halifax on Saturday, November 3rd.
    "If we get public school funding right for the province's 135,000
students, then Nova Scotia is set for the next 60 years," says Payzant. 
"Clearly the government recognizes that investing in education is investing in
the future. There is a political will to continue making improvements".
    The government spent $30 million above base costs on education in
2005-2006 and again in 2006-2007, and this helped fund programs that led to
improved academic performance and smaller class sizes. But Payzant says
funding fell far short of those levels last year and Nova Scotia remains
second last in the country in terms of per student expenditure by province.
    "We have made great strides in our public education system in recent
years, but we must do more now for our children or we risk falling behind," he
says.
    "School boards have used funding they have received wisely and made a
real difference for students. However we still have a long way to go and all
of the good work is at risk if education fails to remain a priority," says Ron
Marks, chair of the association's Lead & Achieve Education Action Plan.

    NSSBA says more money for education could be targeted on a five-point
action plan which includes:
    
    - Aligning the curriculum that students are taught in P-12 schools with
    the skills and outcomes required for the next generation of citizens in
    our province, country and the world. This will require a comprehensive,
    research-based plan and disciplined implementation.

    - Continuing to support students with diverse needs through customized
    programs such as the Options and Opportunities Programs and new
    vocational training, along the lines of Memorial Composite High School.

    - Improving inter-agency and intergovernmental collaboration between
    organizations that help students at risk as recommended by the Nunn
    Commission.

    - Sustaining the focus on schools as Professional Learning Communities
    where teachers, principals and other support staff have the time and
    tools to share best practices.

    - Continuing collaboration between the NSSBA, the Department of
    Education, teachers, parents, students and other partners dedicated to
    improving academic performance.
    
    "We believe this action plan, when implemented, will help ensure Nova
Scotia continues progress toward student achievement," Marks says.

    The NSSBA is the provincial voice for school boards, representing
approximately 135,000 students.  The association has been serving school
boards since 1954.

    NSSBA 5-point action plan for 2008-2009
    Backgrounder
    November 1, 2007

    Nova Scotia's public school system provides education for 135,000
students and these students are our future. Each year, the Nova Scotia School
Boards Association (NSSBA) develops priorities to continue on the path of
improving student achievement. For several years, the NSSBA has been at the
forefront in developing policy and standards to meet the educational needs and
expectations of students and parents in a modern world. Much good work has
been done in a continuing effort to improve the system and the performance of
our students and we need to continue this focus.
    Collaboration and hard work have been a huge part of this success.  So,
too, has adequate funding. In 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 the provincial
government provided funding increases of $30 million for each year above basic
per student spending. This year (2007-2008) only modest additional funding was
made available. The NSSBA says this is unsustainable. Nova Scotia remains
second last on the list of expenditure per student in Canada.
    In short, the province has come a long way, but there is a long way to
go. If we are to keep improving our school system and student achievement,
then the provincial government must continue to invest strategically in
education.
    NSSBA says an additional $30 million above base costs is needed to
continue improving our public education system and to help students achieve
better results in school.
    In September 2007, the Lead and Achieve committee of NSSBA brought
together diverse stakeholders to identify the best ways to continue to improve
public school education in Nova Scotia.
    The group included Lead and Achieve committee members, board chairs,
superintendents, program directors and the executive director of the
Association of Nova Scotia Educational Administrators.

    The result of these deliberations is a five-point action plan:
    
    1   Public School Program/Curriculum Alignment

        - Objective: Align the curriculum that students are taught in P-12
        schools with the skills and outcomes required for the next generation
        of citizens in our province, country and the world. This will require
        a comprehensive, research-based plan and disciplined implementation.

        Tactics: Establish a review team of experts from NSSBA, universities
        and the Department of Education to evaluate our current curriculum.
        The review should examine the following:
              - The need to align expected student outcomes with what is
              taught in class
              - Establishing a process to ensure integration of technology,
              student services, assessment and evaluation with outcomes
              - How the public school program will engage students
              - How to ensure the program is relevant in the information age
              - How to achieve better math and literacy test results
              - How to work collaboratively to develop a futuristic,
              research-based educational plan for Nova Scotia

    2    Diversity of Learning Styles

         Objective: Continue to support students with diverse learning
         requirements through customized programs in the classroom

         Tactics:
              - Expand the concept of the Memorial Composite High School
              Vocational program to each school board
              - Continue to expand the Options and Opportunities Program
              - Include programs for all students, including gifted students
              and those with special needs

    3   Interagency collaboration and action

        Objective: Improve inter-agency and intergovernmental collaboration
        between organizations that help students at risk as recommended by
        the Nunn Commission.

        Tactics:
              - Implement the Nunn Report Recommendations
              - Increase the quantity and quality of interventions
              - Monitor the activities and progress of the Youth Strategy
              Division (Department of Community Services)

    4   Professional Learning Communities

        Objective:  Sustain the focus on schools as Professional Learning
        Communities (PLCs) where teachers, principals and other support staff
        have the time and tools to share best practices.

        Tactics:
              - Allocate time for Professional Learning Communities
              professional development in the regular school day
              - Support PLCs with funding

    5   NSSBA as a Strategic Partner

        Objective: Continued collaboration between the NSSBA, the Department
        of Education, teachers, parents, students and other partners
        dedicated to improving academic performance.

        Tactics:
              - NSSBA welcomes the opportunity and stresses the importance of
              consultation and collaboration with all education stakeholders
              prior to changes or new initiatives in public education
    




For further information:

For further information: Elliott Payzant, president, NSSBA, (902)
682-2662 (H); (902) 491-2854 (O); (902) 541-0116 (cell); Cassie Naas,
communications co-ordinator, NSSBA, (902) 491-2860, cnaas@nssba.ednet.ns.ca

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NOVA SCOTIA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION

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