Loss of nearly $10 million in funding and lowest per pupil special
education funding is "shocking"
TORONTO, June 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Trustees of the Peel District School
Board approved an operating budget of $1.55 billion and a capital
budget of $179.2 million for the 2013-14 school year.
Comparing the budget process to the production of a summer movie
blockbuster, Janet McDougald, chair of the board, notes "Make no
mistake—this is not a Ron Howard, happy ending kind of movie. Not this
budget. We have lost nearly $10 million in provincial funding. That is
shocking, but with no other sources of revenue, we have to accept this
further underfunding and once again work with it."
Adds McDougald, "Do you know what happens when there are more demands
and less money? Maybe we could hope to be like the characters in the
new movie 'Now You See Me'. After all, they are magicians who can
seemingly make millions of dollars appear out of mid-air. That would be
handy at budget time. But sadly, not the case. Instead of hoping for a
magical solution—like a provincial move to fairer funding that doesn't
put Peel in the back of the pack—we had to find our own solutions, and
make some tough choices. And we did just that. Significant cuts to
central departments - returning 46 teachers from central roles back to
the classroom, reducing school operations, and on and on. But as we did
so, we kept our focus on our goals, and priorities."
Despite the funding reductions, the board will maintain support for key
initiatives including the Vision for 21st Century Teaching and Learning and The Journey Ahead: Our Action Plan for Equitable Hiring and Promotion.
Says McDougald, "For 21st Century learning, we will in fact enhance our work to increase the role
of parents as partners. As for The Journey Ahead -if we believe in
bias-free hiring, and we do—we have to make sure we do everything
possible to transform our hiring practices—even if the funds are
A key focus for the board moving into the next school year will be
special education funding.
Explains McDougald, "We are the absolute lowest funded board in the
entire province on the high needs amount of special education. In case
you didn't get that, let me repeat -Lowest. In. The. Province. Funded
almost 50% less than our neighbour board. That is not acceptable. It
was not acceptable when we first realized it several years ago. It was
not acceptable when the province promised year after year to review
what they also see as a flawed formula. And it is certainly not
acceptable this year when they have again quietly announced that they
will not review the formula. Not. Acceptable.
And the only reason I am not announcing tonight a major public campaign
for this fall on this issue is—and this is the last-minute plot twist
we love in movies—that last Thursday, Minister Sandals met with us and
we were able to raise this issue with her in person. First of all, my
appreciation—and the appreciation of this board—to the minister for
showing the respect locally elected trustees deserve. She gave what we
have wanted for a while—the commitment of time and attention to our
issues in Peel.
Did she write us a cheque? I wish—back to that magic movie again. But
she did demonstrate a clear understanding of the issue, and a genuine
appreciation for the situation we find ourselves in. Now, what we need,
what the students of Peel deserve, is action.
The province must fund the high needs special education students we have
in our school now—today—not the ones that were there 10 years ago. They
need to use the current, correct data. If they could do that, we would
go a long way to solving the fair funding gap.
That must take political will. There is no new money—so they will need
to redistribute funds. And that's hard. But so is the work we have done
with our own budget.
Now, the province needs to do the same. The meeting was a great start.
Minister Sandals asked Peel Board to submit our suggestion on what a
fairer provincial funding model would look like. We accept that
challenge and will submit our proposal as soon as possible. And then we
wait - to see if the offer of change is sincere."
SOURCE: Peel District School Board
For further information:
Media contact: Janet McDougald, Chair, Peel District School Board, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-278-1402
Reference: Brian Woodland, Director of Communications and Community Relations Support Services, Peel District School Board, email@example.com, 905-890-1010 ext. 2812
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.