McGuinty Must Intervene to Prevent Drastic Cuts to Toronto Schools

    Press Conference: 5050 Yonge St. 6 pm Thursday June 21st

    TORONTO, June 20 /CNW/ - This year the Liberals are betting that a long
hot summer (and hypnotic repetition of the mantra: 'everything is fine' in
Ontario's schools) will offer a smooth transition to the October 10th
Provincial election.
    Reports from staff at the Toronto District School Board indicate next
week's "no noise/peace & stability" budget comes at a cost of $70,000,000 in
cuts next year. Hundreds of adult education workers currently in our schools,
including Educational Assistants and caretakers, will be "cashiered out" to
satisfy the demands of a funding formula that should have been removed in 2003
along with the Harris/Eves government.
    A coalition of parent, community and education groups, the Campaign for
Public Education, is calling on the Provincial Government to immediately
restore adequate funding to public education to prevent drastic cuts to
Toronto schools and adult programs next year. After almost ten years of
fighting for decent funding to "Give Our Students What They Need to Succeed",
we seem to be moving backwards. Adequate funding of regular summer school for
elementary and secondary (not to mention our much-needed summer literacy
training) is not even on the Board's radar. 514 educational assistants serving
Kindergarten children (75%) are to be slashed. Changes will be made in Adult
Education to recoup revenue for unfunded heating, light and caretaking costs
and a $40 million permanent reduction to school operations is in the works,
which will mean fewer caretakers and increased maintenance backlog. Summer is
here and 30 pools are on the chopping block.
    According to veteran Trustee Irene Atkinson, "If the province would pay
the actual costs of education, we wouldn't be in such difficulties. If we got
funding for the real costs, we would not be facing the same crises year after
year. As it is now, we struggle to pay for caretaking, utilities & maintenance
(a $75 million shortfall), school offices (a $24 million shortfall) and
salaries and benefits (a $27 million shortfall)," she concluded.
    "We can't absorb more cuts to Toronto's education system," noted former
principal, now Ward 10 Trustee, Chris Bolton. "Parents and the community
across the city are going to know that we're facing a provincially created
crisis in public education. This is not rocket science. If the province would
restore funding to our schools this crisis would be avoided."

For further information:

For further information: Trustee Irene Atkinson, (416) 533-0487; Trustee
Chris Bolton, (416) 596-2280

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