CUPE, representing 55,000 education workers in Ontario applauds the Campaign for Public Education’s (CPE) latest effort to secure a review and overhaul of the province’s outdated funding formula.

“CUPE has been calling for a review and overhaul of the funding formula for years,” said Terri Preston, who chairs CUPE’s education sector in Ontario. “The analysis provided by CPE adds to the growing body of evidence that this is urgent. It’s clear that the current funding formula is inadequate to meet the needs of students, communities, and education workers.”

A funding formula reliant mainly on head counts and based on the notion that schools are just a collection of classrooms will never meet the needs of students. Students and parents live this reality every day, and CUPE’s custodial and maintenance workers have long pointed this out.

“The lack of funding for maintenance and infrastructure repair creates cascading problems,” said Vern Andrus, trades representative for CUPE’s education sector workers, and a head custodian with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. “When we have to close down part of an aging building because we don’t have the funds to maintain or repair it, students get squeezed, and the learning environment suffers. When maintenance and infrastructure budgets are stripped of funds to pay for other vital but underfunded programs – like mandated small class sizes or full-day kindergarten – kids suffer. We know very well that the physical infrastructure of schools contributes to the learning environment of the child.”

“A formula that is averaged out across school boards without regard for differences in geography, demographics and building age can never be responsive to the diverse needs of students in Ontario,” said Preston. “CPE has pointed out that by the end of 2019 the deferred maintenance budget total will have increased yet again. They’ve also pointed out the glaring absence of a provincial standard for building maintenance. It’s just not sustainable. We support in particular CPE’s call for a complete review of the funding formula in every respect, and their call for an increase of the operations and maintenance budget by at least 8.7%, to meet a consistent province-wide standard.”

CUPE represents 55,000 workers in the education sector in Ontario, across all four school board systems (English and French, Catholic and public), including educational assistants, early childhood educators, custodians, tradespeople, school administrators, payroll and IT clerks, library technicians and more.