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Letter to the Minister of Education about funding announcements

April 2, 2019—Trustees, in their governance roles, are advocates for public education and for Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. The Ministry of Education has extended the consultation period to May 31, 2019 with regard to recent announcements. HPEDSB trustees believe it is important to advocate for the supports that our students and employees need in order to achieve excellence and equity.

A letter has been sent to the Minister of Education expressing concerns about the recent announcements and proposed changes to education.

Link to a PDF version

Text version

April 1, 2019

The Honourable Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education
438 University Avenue, 5th Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 2A5

Dear Minister Thompson:

The vision in the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) 2015-2020 Strategic Plan: Possibilities Today & Tomorrow is: All students prepared and empowered for the possibilities of today and tomorrow. In order to accomplish this inclusive vision, we are committed to priorities of Achieving Excellence & Equity, Learning & Leadership, Public Confidence and Well-Being. As provincial education partners, we recognize the government’s commitment to fiscal responsibility. We also know that Ontario’s education system is recognized globally, and we want to work collaboratively to both improve and maintain the high quality of education in this province.

I am writing to you because our Board of Trustees is very concerned about the proposed changes in funding to support students with autism, as well as the reduction in the secondary programming amount in the Pupil Foundation Grant, the Cost Adjustment Allocation, the Human Resource Transition Supplement and Classroom Loading Factors. Reductions in funding result in the loss of employees who contribute every day to student achievement. We are particularly alarmed by changes to class sizes in elementary and secondary schools. The proposed increase in average class size in secondary schools to 28:1 is of significant concern. It is clear that teaching positions will be affected and that there will be an impact on the range of programming at secondary schools.

Our board is a mix of suburban and rural areas with a number of small schools. Maintaining a range of programming and an adequate number of staff in secondary schools are already challenges. The reduction of staff, even through attrition, will result in fewer options for students, as well as increased concern about student safety. Senior staff are working to understand the full effect of the proposed increases in class sizes. There will be negative impact on student achievement and well-being.

As elected officials, we have an expectation of equity of access to programming for students in HPEDSB. While we already offer e-learning courses, we know that in many areas of our school board students are unable to access reliable internet service and/or transportation to an accessible location. The e-learning environment is not appropriate for all students.

In addition, as funding decreases and class sizes increase, HPEDSB staff will need to adhere to the local collective agreements which specify more stringent limits on class size. This will increase the funding gap. HPEDSB will be challenged to offer the programs and services necessary for each student to achieve success.

As Trustees, we often hear about the incredible work of our educators and support staff. We know how dedicated our employees are to creating safe, inclusive learning environments and to supporting our most vulnerable students, our students with special needs, our Indigenous students, and to supporting mental and physical well-being.

We are pleased to see that the government continues to invite consultation and hope it seriously considers input from school boards. We ask that you focus on students and value public education by reconsidering the changes to class sizes and funding that will impact both the programs we can offer to students and the number of employees in our system.

We hope to have details soon from the Ministry of Education about how its plan will support school boards to provide programs and services so that students can achieve and be well.

Sincerely

(original signed)

Shannon Binder
Chair of the Board

cc: Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Daryl Kramp, MPP, Hastings-Lennox & Addington
Todd Smith, MPP, Bay of Quinte
Cathy Abraham, President, Ontario Public School Board Association (OPSBA)
Chairs, Ontario public school boards

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For more information, contact:
Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613-966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, extension 62354, [email protected]

Last updated: April 2, 2019 at 4:35 pm