McGuinty Government Further Investing In Safer Schools



    $43.7 Million Flowing in September to Support At-Risk Youth

    TORONTO, Aug. 22 /CNW/ - The McGuinty government is investing in positive
learning environments that support academic achievement, make schools safer
and support at-risk youth.
    Education Minister Kathleen Wynne, Community Safety and Correctional
Services Minister Monte Kwinter, and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister
of Education Liz Sandals made the announcement today at St. Joseph's College
School.
    "We have listened to parents, students, teachers and principals," said
Sandals, who also chaired the Safe Schools Action Team. "That's why we are now
placing greater emphasis on prevention, progressive discipline and early
intervention - making sure students have the opportunity to continue their
learning but in an environment that is safer for all our students."
    "This funding means having more caring and concerned adults in our
schools to support our students," said Wynne. "Our goal is to continue to
build partnerships among school staff dedicated to supporting at-risk students
and community professionals who can work side-by-side with our educators."
    The province is investing $12.2 million to help school boards:
    
    -  An annual investment of $10.5 million will fund 170 psychologists,
       social workers, child and youth workers, attendance counsellors and
       others.
    -  One-time funding of $1.7 million will provide 18 police officers who
       will work with school boards in Toronto, London and Hamilton to
       prevent bullying.
    

    These teams of supportive adults will help schools offer extra support to
students at risk.
    "We are committed to making our schools safer," said Kwinter. "People
such as social workers and police officers can help make this happen by
working with schools, communities and social services to enhance safe schools
and bullying-prevention programs."
    "The Toronto Police Service believes in a comprehensive strategy for
dealing with issues of youth violence," said Deputy Chief of Police Keith
Forde. "Only when education and law enforcement coordinate to provide support
to our young people will we truly be successful."
    This new funding builds on an annual allocation of $31 million, announced
in April and flowing to schools this September, to make Ontario's schools
safer. This includes:
    
    -  $23 million for programs and supports to address inappropriate
       behaviour and programs for all expelled students and students serving
       long-term suspensions.
    -  $8 million for other safe schools initiatives including providing
       training to school board teams including principals, vice-principals
       and teachers on changes to the Education Act and ways to apply
       discipline in a non-discriminatory manner, along with other supports
       to school boards.
    

    As well, the government has provided $500,000 to the Council of Ontario
Directors of Education for the development of an e-learning program for
principals and vice-principals. This online behaviour management tool will be
available in September providing information on safe schools topics that
include bullying, Internet safety and substance abuse.
    In June, the government passed amendments to the safe schools provisions
in the Education Act that more effectively combine discipline with
opportunities for students to continue their education.
    "We believe that all Ontario's students and staff should feel safe at
school and on school grounds," said Wynne. "That's why we continue to work
with schools and communities to make our schools safer."

    Disponible en français

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


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

                       ONTARIO'S SAFE SCHOOL STRATEGY
    

    To help ensure that students feel safe at schools and on school grounds,
the Ontario government has a comprehensive Safe Schools Strategy that includes
a Bullying Prevention Strategy.

    Amendments to the Education Act

    As part of its strategy, in June the government passed amendments to the
safe schools provisions in the Education Act that more effectively combine
discipline with opportunities for students to continue their education.

    Highlights include:
    
    -  Adding bullying to the list of infractions for which suspension must
       be considered
    -  Supporting a progressive discipline approach to choose the appropriate
       course of action in the case of inappropriate behaviour.
    -  Replacing mandatory suspensions and expulsions for students (except in
       limited circumstances) with the requirement that principals and school
       boards respond to all infractions that occurred in the most
       appropriate way
    -  Requiring that mitigating and other factors be considered before
       students are suspended or expelled
    -  Clarifying decision-making authority for principals to suspend and
       school boards to expel students.

    The safe schools provisions of the Act will come into effect February 1,
2008. This will give school boards time to put programs in place and fully
implement the requirements of the new legislation.

    Investing in Safer Schools and Bullying Prevention

    To support the changes, the government has allocated $43.7 million. This
includes:

    -  $12.2 million to help school boards.
         -  $10.5 million annually to fund 170 psychologists, social workers,
            child and youth workers, attendance counsellors and others.
         -  $1.7 million in one-time funding for 18 police officers who will
            work with school boards in Toronto, London and Hamilton to
            prevent bullying.
    -  $23 million annually for programs and supports to address
       inappropriate behaviour and programs for all expelled students and
       students serving long-term suspensions.
    -  $8 million annually for other safe schools initiatives including
       providing training to school board teams including principals, vice-
       principals and teachers on changes to the act and ways to apply
       discipline in a non-discriminatory manner, along with other supports
       to school boards.
    -  A one-time investment of $500,000 to the Council of Ontario Directors
       of Education for the development of an e-learning program for
       principals and vice-principals that is part of the ministry's Bullying
       Prevention Strategy.

    Of this $43.7 million total investment, $41.5 million is annual funding,
beginning in 2007-2008.
    The amendments and funding will build on the government's current
$28.7 million investment to make schools safer and help prevent bullying. The
current investment includes:

    -  $7.8 million for bullying-prevention programs/resources for schools
       and boards
    -  $4.5 million for bullying-prevention training for up to 25,000
       teachers
    -  $1.2 million for bullying-prevention training for approximately 7,500
       principals and vice-principals
    -  $3 million for a three-year partnership with Kids Help Phone to
       provide more resources for bullying and cyber-bullying prevention
       support
    -  $6 million for model projects to promote positive behaviour
    -  $3.2 million for security access devices for schools as part of a Safe
       Welcome Program to help staff better monitor school visitors and limit
       points of access into schools
    -  $3 million through the OESC Special Circumstances Bullying and
       Violence Prevention Fund for schools facing additional challenges.

    Bullying Prevention Strategy

    In addition to current investments in bullying prevention, the Ontario
government has introduced other initiatives to reduce bullying. These include:

    -  Developing a multi-lingual pamphlet for parents on bullying prevention
    -  Hosting an online respect and responsibility forum for students to
       gather insights on how students are using the Internet, cell phones
       and other online technologies
    -  Co-sponsoring two Gangs Awareness Seminars for over 250 educators and
       school officers, in partnership with The Committee of Youth Officers
       for the Province of Ontario and The Ontario Gang Investigators
       Association.
    -  Providing a registry of bullying prevention programs on the Ministry
       of Education website and updating them on a regular basis
    -  Developing school climate surveys that will help in-school teams
       determine school needs and make decisions on bullying-prevention
       programming.

    Disponible en français

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





For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, Ministry
of Education, (416) 212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch,
Ministry of Education, (416) 325-2676; Annette Phillips, Minister's Office,
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 326-8265, (647)
205-6598 (cellular); Anthony Brown, Communications Branch, Ministry of
Community Safety and Correctional Services, (416) 314-7772; Public Inquiries:
(416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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