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Funding Targets Shared with School Board Chairs

By on October 22, 2019

first_imgThe province today, Feb. 8, provided school boards with budget targets designed to put children and learning first while ensuring Nova Scotia continues on a path to living within its means by matching funding levels with the decline in student enrolment. “I have always said I want to put children and learning first,” said Education Minister Ramona Jennex. “I’ve instructed school boards to protect students and special education.” Conditions attached to funding will direct boards to make savings primarily through teacher and staff retirements and significant reductions in administration, while maintaining quality in the classroom. “We said we would start by cutting administrative spending, which has grown 30 per cent over the past decade, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Ms. Jennex. In a letter to board chairs, the minister requested boards achieve targets under these conditions: — Teacher and support staff reductions must be achieved, as much as possible, through retirements and attrition. This will keep the student-teacher ratio below 15 to 1, which is the lowest ratio in a generation. — Provincial supports for students with special needs must be protected. The province will maintain funding for special education at $125 million, the same level as 2010-11. — Boards must target at least a 15 per cent reduction in administration in 2011-12 and plan for a 50 per cent reduction in board consultants over the next three years. — The direct provincial funding for mentors for teachers must be reduced by 50 per cent in 2011-12. — Provincial funding for targeted initiatives (for example IB, O2 and Healthy Living) will remain at 2010-11 levels. — Redirect a portion of funds for Reading Recovery, which will be phased out, into early reading intervention programs that will benefit more students. — The province requires boards maintain the cap on class size from Primary to Grade 3. But it will permit boards to add no more than two additional students per class, in cases where this represents the best option to protect the quality of education in the classroom. For example, situations where the increase will allow boards to avoid split or combined classes. “We must ensure our considerable investment in education matches the needs and numbers of students,” Ms. Jennex said. “We must do our part to help the province live within its means. Otherwise, the students who are in the classroom now will be paying for it well into the future.” Between 2000-01 and 2010-11, funding for school boards increased by more than $320 million or 43 per cent, even as enrolment dropped by almost 30,000 students. Over the next three years, about 1,000 teachers will retire and close to 7,000 fewer students will be attending school, creating big challenges for boards. The province will reduce the $1.07 billion in funding to Nova Scotia’s eight school boards by $17.6 million, a 1.65 per cent reduction. The funding targets are in keeping with a provincial enrolment decline next year of two per cent, or 2,500 students. Like other departments and agencies funded by government, boards will also have to manage their own costs. Ms. Jennex said advice from respected educator Ben Levin will also help government and boards maintain quality while managing change brought on by ongoing enrolment decline. Mr. Levin, who is expected to deliver his report at the end of February, will focus on ideas such as improving teaching practices and learning, and making better use of facilities and resources.last_img read more

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