"Referring to student-focused staff as 'back office expense' sounds like
Mike Harris talk," says chair
TORONTO, June 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Trustees of the Peel District School
Board approved an operating budget of $1.55 billion and a capital
budget of $1.72 million for the 2012-13 school year. This balanced
budget is a $2.9 million decrease in provincial operating grants from
"The budget before us tonight—all appearances to the contrary—is not a
book, or even a binder. It is really a means to an end—the way we
achieve our mission to inspire success, confidence and hope in each
student," says Janet McDougald, chair of the board. "And behind the
budget before us tonight—behind this critical means to our collective
end—is countless hours of work and endless difficult decisions."
McDougald commended board staff for having done the very best with the
reduced funding from the province. Notes McDougald, "Of course, we all
know the financial situation in this province, the country, the world.
Equally, we know we need to do our part. In fact, long before we
received the budget, we had asked each department to reduce
discretionary budgets by three per cent across the board. Through the
administrative budget process there have been other savings found by
reducing office staff support in secondary schools, for example."
"But right now most people have the sense that the government's plan—and
it is their plan—to freeze salaries, grids and change sick days—is the
economic price to pay for maintaining education funding. There is good
reason for people to believe that—it has been very well messaged from
the province. And messaged often," notes McDougald. "In fact, it was a
commitment front and centre in the budget news release with a lofty
promise...the 'government will continue to build on its plan to have
the world's best-educated workforce to ensure future prosperity in the
knowledge-based economy.' Wow. Impressive. But somehow, lost in the
translation, is the financial commitment to actually attain that goal."
Adds McDougald, "When all the numbers are crunched, all the beans
counted, all the information run through the government's budget
software, the end result is not positive for the Peel District School
Board, for our staff, for our students or for our community. In fact,
it is fair to say this has been the most difficult budget for this
board since this 'education government' was elected."
For many years, Peel trustees have asked and continue to ask for the
funding formula to be reviewed, and for the gap between the provincial
average per student amount and the amount given per Peel student to be
closed. Although some progress has been made, there is more to be done.
"Now, I want to be clear, this is not about support or lack of support
for this government or our local MPPs—we recognize and acknowledge the
progress made, the funding provided, the peace and stability in
schools, the innovative and powerful programs introduced in the last
eight years. But all this does not justify unconditional support when
we have to cut literacy teachers, for example...our reduction of $2.5
million was higher than we deserved...As well, the board remains the
lowest funded board on a per pupil basis for high needs students."
The board maintains these cuts are unfair, "as is the arbitrary cut to
our maintenance budget of about $2.4 million this year, and four times
more than that next year for a total reduction of $9.6 million. Once
again, as a board, we feel punished for having been efficient and
effective in building new schools while closing under-enrolled older
schools. After all, that was the government direction. Now, the boards
with those older, under-enrolled schools will actually get more
maintenance funding this year," notes McDougald.
"This is simply not fair. Not fair to our students and communities who
make such excellent use of our schools. And not fair to our
extraordinary custodial and maintenance team who do an extraordinary
job of keeping schools spotless. The extra year to phase in was
helpful, but I would respectfully remind the government that when we
received the increased LOG funding that our students deserved, they
phased it in over four years," says McDougald. "I would ask the
government to phase this reduction in over the same number of years—and
to reduce the amount to something fairer for the students, staff and
taxpayers of Peel. This will be a key issue we will raise with our MPPs
so their voices can be heard. As well, the funding formula has got to
be addressed. Our per pupil funding gap continues to be inequitable
relative to neighbouring boards."
Continues McDougald, "I am also, frankly, concerned about the kind of
language and messaging I now hear from the province. In their May 29
news release about 'protecting gains in education,' the quote was,
'With enrolment down significantly since 2003 and projected to continue
to decline in the coming years, Ontario needs to focus limited taxpayer
dollars on the classroom rather than administration and back-office
expenses.' I haven't heard that kind of talk since the Mike Harris
"This is an outstanding budget report, given the funds available. With
the commitment from all our hard working staff we will continue to
focus on the success of every student, but if the government would have
the courage to address our growth by reviewing and redistributing
funding, we could do so much more. To this end, we will continue to
advocate for all our students and staff in Peel," says McDougald.
For more information about the Peel board budget, go to www.peelschools.org. For a complete copy of the budget, call 905-890-1010 (or
1-800-668-1146) ext. 2012.
Note to media: Download the full text of Janet McDougald's budget remarks on the Peel board website at www.peelschools.org. Click on the news release in the "What's New" section of our homepage.
SOURCE Peel District School Board
For further information:
Media contact: Janet McDougald, Chair, Peel District School Board, 905-278-1402, email@example.com
Reference: Carla Pereira, Manager of Communications (Acting), 905-890-1010/1-800-668-1146 ext. 2814, firstname.lastname@example.org