Rainbow School Board yet to determine impacts of provincial announcements

SUDBURY—The Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) is still working through the details as to what an increase in provincial funding for Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) in 2019-2020 and a reduction in per-pupil funding will mean to the board. 

Doreen Dewar, chair of the RDSB had told the Recorder late last week that the board had received notice from the Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA) they would be reviewing the GSNs and per-pupil funding. She pointed out the province announced that board will receive $24.66 billion in GSNs funding for 2019-20 with funding for per pupil to be reduced from $12,300 per student to $12,246. At this point, she said, it is unclear what this all means to the board.

Norm Blaseg, director of education for RDSB told the Recorder in a statement Wednesday, “we recently received general information from the province related to the Grants for Student Needs or GSNs and Priorities and Partnerships Funding or PPFs (formerly Education Program-Other funding or EPOs) for 2019-2020, but do not have the details regarding the specific allocations for our school board.”

“There are many funding envelopes within the GSNs that could affect the personnel complement,” said Mr. Blaseg. “We are taking our time to work through the details and will communicate directly with our federations on any matters pertaining to staffing as the budget process unfolds.”

“We are putting student achievement at the centre of everything we do to make sure students leave school with the tools they need to be successful both inside and outside the classroom,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education, last Friday. “We continue to invest more money into our education system every single year and we will ensure every dollars helps deliver the results parents and students expect.”

Investments in Ontario’s publicly funded education system through the (GSNs) education  funding to school boards will be $24.66 billion in 2019-20120, while per-pupil funding is projected to be $12,246, explained the minister. A new attrition protection allocation will be included in the province’s education funding model for up to four years, providing a top-up for school boards where the change in funded classroom teachers exceeds actual attrition and other voluntary leaves. This attrition protection funding will help protect front-line teaching staff and prevent the risk of layoffs due to class size changes or e-learning.

In addition, the government has established a new $330 million Priorities and Partnership Fund (PPF) that will support the ministry’s vision with time-limited investments. This funding will focus on high-impact initiatives that directly support students in the classroom. The Ministry of Education gathered feedback through numerous consultations as a starting point to education funding reform. Feedback received through the GSN engagement informed education funding for the 2019-2020 school year.

“With attrition protection funding support in place, school boards should have sufficient funding to avoid laying off teachers who may be impacted by our proposed changes,” added Minister Thompson. “Our government is taking a responsible approach to balancing the budget that restores confidence in Ontario’s finances, while protecting what matters most, our world class healthcare and education systems.”