TORONTO, April 12, 2017 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) views the 2017-2018 Grants for Student Needs (GSN) announcement as evidence of the provincial government's commitment to the value and importance of a strong publicly funded education system.
OPSBA is actively engaged in the annual GSN process and submitted a brief to the Ministry of Education and the pre-budget consultations in January 2017. The brief outlined pressing funding pressures facing school boards and offered recommendations based on the advice of school trustees, educators, and school business officials in a number of key areas including Rural and Remote boards, Special Education, School Facility Operations and Renewal Grants, Student Transportation, Indigenous Education, and school board flexibility to meet local needs among many others.
"OPSBA remains committed to advocating for sustainable funding that reflects our shared focus on positive learning environments for students. The province's funding announcement today is a step in the right direction," said OPSBA President Laurie French. "Our member boards continually balance a variety of ongoing challenges including budget area reductions, pupil accommodation pressures and reduced local flexibility against their core responsibility of enabling student achievement and well-being."
The announcement commits $879 million in additional funds bringing the total GSN funding for 2017-2018 to just over $23 billion. The additional funding is allocated in part to support the nine successfully negotiated collective agreements, which provide for sector stability and positive learning environments for students, as well as funds for school boards to support their delivery of education programs and services.
Today's announcement of increased funds to support Special Education, Indigenous student achievement, school infrastructure, and student transportation is welcomed.
Many boards have been confronting pressure to address excess capacity and programming needs through pupil accommodation reviews with the phase out of top-up funding under the Ministry's School Board Efficiencies and Modernization Strategy (SBEM) and growing student transportation costs. These remain ongoing issues affecting school boards, students, and parents across the province. OPSBA and its members will be actively involved in the government's upcoming consultations on Student Transportation and Rural and Remote Education Review.
OPSBA will continue to review the entirety of today's GSN announcement, including impacts to boards contained within the Education Program Other (EPO) funding.
OPSBA is committed to working with the Ontario government and our provincial education partners and believes that strong and equitable education funding is a foundational factor in setting the conditions that promote and sustain student achievement and well-being.