NSSBA Disappointed with Public School Funding

    DARTMOUTH, NS, March 26 /CNW/ - The Nova Scotia School Boards Association
(NSSBA) is disappointed with the 2007/08 funding for public schools. "We
recognize the challenge facing the Government; however, this budget will have
a negative impact on Nova Scotia's 142,000 public school students," says
Association President Elliott Payzant. "We only have one chance to help these
young people," says Payzant, "And this budget does not give us the resources
to do that."
    In a February 2007 Nextbus Survey conducted on behalf of the NSSBA by
Thinkwell Research, 62% of the respondents agreed that "relative to other
public priorities, such as health, roads, and the environment, public school
education should receive top priority."
    While school boards appreciate the fact that there will be no major
program cuts, the additional $30 million that boards were seeking is not
there. The 4.4% increase indicated by the Department of Education will be used
almost entirely to cover normal cost pressures, mainly salaries.
    Not only is there no new money to fund new initiatives, this budget
announcement includes barely enough to ensure that current programs will
continue. Students may suffer as momentum for many programs will be lost. "It
is easy to fall behind if we are not moving forward," says Payzant.
    A strong priority for school boards is the ability to provide a variety
of programs to meet the diverse needs of students. We are pleased that the
Department of Education will continue to fund the Options and Opportunities
(O2) program to grade 11. However, the lack of new money will mean that there
will be no substantial increase in the number of sites where the program can
be offered. Says Payzant, "As the focus of this year's provincial Education
Week is skills and learning, it is unfortunate that funding will not be
available to fully support these new initiatives related to necessary
    Improved inter-agency, inter-departmental co-operation has also been a
priority for school boards for many years. Boards are actively working on
partnerships, and in co-operation with the Department of Education, are
preparing for an April 20th forum in Dartmouth to showcase school board,
community and department partnership initiatives. Boards welcomed the recent
recommendations of the Nunn Report. Friday's budget announcement leaves little
hope however, that work will move ahead. As an example, there is no money for
additional guidance counsellors, which are greatly needed to keep students
engaged in learning.
    Payzant predicts it will be a most challenging year. "At the same time",
he says, "school boards are committed to providing the very best education for
our 142,000 students. With the one chance that we have, it is imperative that
we do everything possible to get it right."

    The NSSBA is the provincial voice for school boards, representing
approximately 142,000 students.

For further information:

For further information: Elliott Payzant, president, NSSBA,
(902)682-2662 (H), (902) 491-2854 (O), (902) 541-0116 (cell); Sharon
Findlay-MacPhee, communications manager, NSSBA, (902) 491-2856 (O), (902)
221-6881 (cell)

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