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          RE-ELECT
Brad MacDonald                                 October 25, 2010
Ward 2 & 8 Public School Trustee

Make Kids First

 

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GOVERNMENT UNDER FUNDING

PEEL Public School Board has been treated like a second class citizen, with fewer programs being applied and lower levels of funding.

When I became a Trustee back in 2003, a Peel student received $459 less than the Provincial average and that gap has grown every year, standing now at an amazing $838 per student. This equates to $117 Million Dollars.

Can you imagine what $117 Million in funding could provide? Consider what other Boards do with the additional funding they receive! Here is what it could mean to our schools:

  • Lunch Room Supervisors
  • More Computer for our Schools
  • More textbooks
  • More funding for our classrooms, where are kids spend most ofl the time
  • Better maintenance plan for our aging schools especially in Wards 2 and 8
  • More Assessment Staff so we can reduce the waiting list
  • More Teaching Assistants
  • More ESL and ELL support for our immigrant population, which is the largest in Ontario
  • New Schools are much bigger, almost 2 times bigger than the rest of the province

Even more concerning, if you were to compare ourselves to Toronto, they receive over $1,110 more per student than Peel! How and why does our neighbor deserve more than our children? This is neither equitable and nor fair.

Meeting with MPP's and Education Ministers

Although, the Peel Board has been meeting with our local MPP's and the various Education Ministers over the years, we have not seen any change to close the gap. Each and every single year, the gap grows bigger and bigger, with Peel being the 3rd lowest funded board in all the Province.

The Honorable Harinder Takhar, who was the Chief Financial Officer of Peel School Board before becoming our Ward 8 MPP, knows very well the issues we faced. Yet his latest September 2010 Newletter states Peel Public School Board gets $ 9,657 per Student, while our co-terminus board Peel Cathlolic Board gets $ 10,144, $ 487 more!!!!

Takhar Report - Page 1
Takhar Report - Page 3

What we have done

Our Board, over the years, has been working persistently to highlight this severe problem - meeting with our MPP's, Education Ministers and even our Premier.

Given the widening gap over the last 7 years, last fall, we started bringing our message to the various School Councils in Peel. The support has been amazing. They have spearheaded a grassroots action plan, sending letters to our MPP's and inviting them to information sessions to explain to our parents why we should receive less funding than  other neighboring boards. Unfortunately, the government does not believe there is a problem and has tried to debate the numbers or say Peel cannot be compared to any other board.

Mobilizing our schools councils has certainly caught the attention of our government and the Board is examining taking it to the next level to get our message out to the community and the province.

This year the trustees and board worked on an aggressive media campaign to get our message out:

 

Devil is in the Details

So where and how can this discrepancy happen. Why would the government be so offside on the funding of Peel. Well  examined some of the underlying assumptions that have lead us to this issues:

  • Census Data - They have used 1992 and 1996 Census data to distribute money. This favors declining boards like Toronto and disproportionately hurts PEEL the fastest growing board in the Province. Our board has doubled over those years, with the huge influx of immigrants. They finally agreed to use the latest census data but oh wait, lets phase that in over 4 years so we lose out on 15 million over that period of time.
     
  • High Needs Funding - In our Special Education, each board gets a "High needs" funding. This should be the same across the province, since the percentage of high needs children in each system, should be relatively the same. However, Peel gets only $300 per student (lowest of all Boards) compared with the provincial average of $600 per student.
     
  • Early Years Funding - Peel the 2nd largest board according to the outdated census data, has not grown over the last 10 years and as a result is only funded as such. Hard to imagine! Each and every board provides their enrollment data 3 times a year, so they should know exactly how many children we have versus the other boards.
     
  • Declining Enrollment - All but 3 boards are declining in enrollment. Based on projection, Peel could be larger than Toronto in 10 years if the rates of decline continue. Yet the government has been helping the declining boards except Peel with extra funding. Would you believe PEEL is declining? The facts are that Peel has certainly been increasing, no doubt about it; however, if you look at the school population below the 401, 403 or QEW, you will would find we have a huge declining population. Infact, we have already closed 2 schools in Streetsville and Port Credit, yet the government will not recognize that our needs are the same.
     
  • Special Funding -  From our perspective, the government seems to allocated funding to those boards that attract the most media attention instead of true needs and with equity throughout the province. When you consider the cost, 86% of the Budget is Salaries, it is hard to imagine Peel could receive an extra 10% ($117 Million).

Finally after 11 years - Some Good News

The government has finally agreed to correct the HNF (High Needs Funding) to social economical model which means $20 Million more for Peel that is being phased in over 4 years.

We still have a long way to go to close the $117 Million gap but it has been certainly a great step in the right direction.

 

 

   

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