Peel board to welcome all first, second year full-day kindergarten students despite lack of provincial funding

"We should not make children pay for a poor funding decision by the province," says chair

TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - Faced with continued enrolment growth and significant provincial underfunding for the full-day kindergarten program, the board has chosen to fund the growth beyond ministry funding from reserves and to slightly increase average class size in the program from 26 to two to 28 to two. The board rejected the option of capping enrolment and using a lottery system to determine access. Trustees also rescinded their motion from April 2010 that directed administration to only offer classes based on the provincial funding available for full-day kindergarten. 

Notes Janet McDougald, chair of the Peel District School Board, "Our position as a board has not changed.  The province needs to stop funding full-day kindergarten by a set amount and fund it the way it does all other programs—by actual enrolment. They need to fully fund the actual students we serve in full-day kindergarten. This is a provincially mandated program—and one we believe in as a board. There is no doubt about the incredible impact that full-day kindergarten will have on children and families. That is borne out by the strong interest in the program by eligible families. Beyond the 10 classes the board supported above ministry funding in year one, we are now expecting an additional 11 classes in year two. As a board, after multiple and unsuccessful attempts to receive the funding we deserve from the province, we were left with two choices: accept all students and find a way to pay the cost of an estimated $900,000, or cap our enrolment and use a lottery system to determine who gets into a provincially mandated program in their neighbourhood school—and who gets bused to a half-day program outside the neighbourhood. This is an impossible position faced by boards across the province, many of which are dealing with unexpected enrolment growth. As a board, we decided that caps and lotteries were not consistent with our values and practice as an organization."

Says McDougald, "The fact that the ministry is not funding these spaces is unacceptable for our board, for parents, children and communities. But we should not make children pay for a poor funding decision by the province. As a board, we have decided to do the right thing and let all children who are eligible access the full-day program in their communities. It was not an easy decision. We do believe the province should pay for all students enrolled at approved schools. It is their program and their mandate. But the responsibility of the local board of trustees is to do what is right for the children we serve. And this is the right educational decision and the one that best reflects our values of equity and accessibility to public education."

Stresses McDougald, "Rescinding our motion does not mean that we are letting the government off the hook for fully funding full-day kindergarten. We know the government believes in this program—we hear about it in their television ads every day. We share that belief. But as a board, we now ask that the government follow our lead—to make the choice to put children first. That they make the decision to put some of their admittedly scarce financial resources behind a landmark program with such potential for children and communities. In short, that they fund the actual students we serve in our schools—not an arbitrary estimate of how many we 'might' serve. That is the right educational choice for a government that has been so supportive of public education in Ontario."

SOURCE Peel District School Board

For further information:

Mediacontact:  Janet McDougald, Chair, Peel District School Board, 905-278-1402, janet.mcdougald@peelsb.com
Reference:  Brian Woodland, Director of Communications & Strategic Partnerships Support Services, 905-890-1010, ext. 2812, brian.woodland@peelsb.com

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Peel District School Board

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