TORONTO – Public school funding announced on March 26 by the Ministry of Education will leave students behind and speed up the closure of schools across Ontario, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
“The minister said she wants to support student achievement and well-being, but her announcement makes it clear the government is ramping up its effort to force potentially hundreds of school closures across the province,” says Hahn. “Taking kids out of their local schools, which are the hearts of their communities, hurts student well-being. Forcing kids in rural communities to endure ever longer bus rides because of school closures will impact student achievement. The government is making these short-sighted decisions based on deeply flawed utilization numbers, and Ontario’s students deserve better.”
The education ministry’s funding is based on a formula for “utilization” rates in schools. A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows the funding formula is deeply flawed and the ministry is not accounting for a number of key uses of school space. Today’s announcement included another push to close schools across Ontario by the Minister, even though the government just announced it will be consulting on the use of schools as community hubs.
“How can you say you’re committed to consultations on community hubs while you’re aggressively closing the very buildings that would house those hubs,” said Hahn. “That makes no sense.”
Today’s release by the Ministry of Education of the Grants for Student Needs also failed to address chronic underfunding of special education. In fact, it will mean less special education funding for 38 school boards.
“Almost 80 percent of school boards already have to spend more on special education than the ministry provides. Despite this board-level commitment, students and families continue to wait years for support. Many students with learning disabilities never get the support they need,” said Terri Preston, chair of CUPE Ontario’s School Board Workers Coordinating Committee. “Let’s be honest, this continued shortfall in provincial funding is hurting student achievement.”
CUPE Ontario will continue its call for a moratorium on school closures until there is a full public consultation and review of the funding formula. It will also continue working with coalition partners to ensure the ministry provides adequate funding for special education.
“Investing in public education builds a better Ontario for future generations,” said Preston. “Our members are standing up and demanding our schools receive the provincial funding they need so students can succeed and we can maintain these valuable public assets in our communities.” CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day.
CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.
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