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School board trustees concerned about funding

'Education funding has been an issue for a number of years, with the HDSB ranking among the three lowest-funded school boards in Ontario for more than a decade,' said the trustees in a statement
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Trustees of the Halton District School Board (HDSB) are expressing their concern about education funding in Ontario, and the impact on next year’s budget.

Education funding "has been an issue for a number of years," according to the trustees, with the HDSB ranking among the three lowest-funded school boards in Ontario for more than a decade.

Across the province, funding has not kept up with the cost of providing education with funding per student falling by $1,500 in inflation-adjusted terms since 2018. The main areas of education funding that are causing pressures include the underfunded supply staffing costs, unfunded enhanced statutory benefits (for CPP/EI), as well as the funding allocations outside of compensation not keeping up with inflation and market pressures.

Because of these funding pressures, the HDSB is in a deficit position of almost $8 million this year and is required by regulation to eliminate that deficit in the next school year. Without sufficient increases to education funding, the HDSB will be forced to reduce supports and resources for students this fall.

A reduction of this scale involves cuts across the entire system. The draft budget that staff have presented to Trustees involves increased class sizes for special education and kindergarten, reduced supports for literacy, fewer classes in secondary schools, reductions in facilities maintenance and other areas - including supports for mental health and well-being - which will adversely affect students.

Funding for transportation has not kept up with costs and Trustees are concerned this could lead to some programs becoming unsustainable, and result in inequitable access to programs throughout the region.

Furthermore, funding for staff, which is provided by the province, has not been adjusted to cover the extra $6 million in costs associated with the enhancements to CPP and EI. The funding provided for supply teachers is $10 million less than the actual costs. If the province covered these two items, the HDSB could be making investments instead of making cuts.

Many students fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic and now is the time to help them catch up by making investments in classrooms, targeted supports, and mental health and well-being. This is not the time to be taking resources away from students.

"Trustees are deeply concerned with their ability to approve a balanced budget given the current education funding limitations and that the budget will not adequately support programs and services to serve the diverse needs of our students and school communities," says Amy Collard, Chair of the Halton District School Board. "Trustees are committed to advocating at the local and provincial level for fair funding for public education in Halton."

To advocate for Fair Funding, Trustees have been raising concerns about education funding with the Government of Ontario and local Members of Provincial Parliament.

To learn more, visit the HDSB Trustees’ Fair Funding webpage and tune into the June 5 Board meeting where the draft budget will be discussed. The Fair Funding webpage contains information about how the HDSB is funded, an infographic which highlights budget concerns, proposed budget changes for the upcoming school year and suggestions for how to advocate about your concerns with education funding in Halton.