Tory to invest $2.44 billion in public education

    TORONTO, Sept. 4 /CNW/ - As children across Ontario headed back to school
today, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory pledged to improve public
education in Ontario by initiating an urgent review to fix the provincial
funding formula and increase annual funding by $2.44 billion over the next
four years.
    "Our children begin the first day of school full of excitement and hope
for the year ahead. I am committed to delivering a public education system
that ensures each child has the support they need to realize their full
potential," said Tory, outside of Byngmount Beach Public School.
"Unfortunately, Ontario's public education system is facing critical
challenges that have been swept under the rug by Dalton McGuinty's government.
The funding system is broken, schools are in disrepair, and standards are
dropping. Our children deserve better."
    Currently, one out of every four school boards in Ontario is facing
financial crisis. Many have been forced to cut reading recovery programs, let
basic maintenance slide, and raid reserves to balance their budgets. People
for Education report that school boards are receiving over $180 million less
than their actual costs in transportation and support staff and over half of
Ontario's school boards report that they spend more on school maintenance than
they receive from the McGuinty government.
    Tory laid out his commitment to education, stating that he would
strengthen and restore hope in Ontario public education by:

        -  Honouring the current government's pledged new investment of
           $963 million for the 2007-08 school year, with annual funding
           climbing to $2.44 billion over 2006-07 spending by 2011-12. Of the
           remaining $1.5 billion in 2008-09 onward, $400 million will be
           earmarked to expand the public system to include faith-based
    -      Initiating an urgent review of the funding formula in the 2007-08
           school year with annual reviews thereafter. This will ensure that
           school boards have the funds they need to address their unique
           local needs and provide quality education;
    -      Raising standards in education to provide parents with an honest
           assessment of how well their children and schools are doing; and
    -      Providing teachers and parents with a greater say in planning and
           decision-making and ensuring the opinions of teachers are heard
           through a new teachers' survey.

    "After four years of empty promises by Dalton McGuinty, it's time to
finally fix the funding formula and provide school boards with the resources
and flexibility they need to address their unique local needs," said Tory.
"Unlike Mr. McGuinty, I will deliver on my promises and work with teachers and
administrators to strengthen public education and ensure that our children
have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed."

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               Tory to Invest $2.44 Billion in Public Education

    John Tory announced today significant investments in public education.
Under a John Tory government, annual education funding will grow by
$2.44 billion over 2006-07 levels by 2011-12. With declining enrolment, this
means per student funding will rise more rapidly.
    A John Tory government will also initiate an urgent review of the funding
formula in the 2007-08 school year. An annual review of the funding formula
will take place each year to ensure that the formula is up to date so that it
matches the actual cost of running a school. A PC government will also match
the $182 million incremental funding increase recently announced for the
2007- 08 year.
    Part of the additional $2.44 billion will support expanding the public
system to include faith-based schools, for which $400 million has been set
aside. This is based on an estimated 80 per cent of eligible students
participating in the program. Students who enter the public system as part of
a faith-based school will receive the same per-pupil funding as every other
student in the Ontario public school system.
    The Public Education Fairness Implementation Commission, chaired by the
Honourable Bill Davis, will work with education stakeholders to establish a
funding model that achieves the goals of expanding the public education system
to include faith-based schools. The commission will establish pilot programs
for the 2008-09 school year to inform the final implementation process which
will begin during the 2010-2011 school year.
    Further, a John Tory government will make additional new annual
investments of $100 million for capital renewal of substandard schools, which
will enable $1.5 billion of school repairs. The remaining additional funding
for education of almost $2 billion will support fixing the education funding
formula and substantial investment in our public school system.
    Other education initiatives under a John Tory government include:
limiting the homework burden to 10 minutes per grade level, as recommended by
educational experts; renewed and expanded standardized testing; and a
commitment to listen to the opinions of teaching professionals through a new
teachers' survey.

For further information:

For further information: Mike Van Soelen, Tel: (647) 722-1760

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