The MLA Report, by Karen Casey
New funding system can’t be based on enrollment
As the education critic from 2009 to 2013 when this province was under an NDP government, I had written many articles, raised many issues in the legislature and questioned the minister of the day continuously about the lack of support for public education in this province.
It was during this time that it was blatantly obvious that education wasn’t a priority and funding cuts to education were being implemented without any regard for the students who would be negatively impacted by those cuts.
It was very frustrating and disappointing to watch this happen knowing that for many students it was interfering with their learning to a point where some students will have difficulty recovering. That wasn’t acceptable.
As the Minister of Education, I’m very pleased to be part of a government elected on Oct. 8 that has identified very clearly that education is a priority. We know there are limited dollars available in this province. We also know every economist will tell you that during difficult times one of the last places a government should cut funding is education. Our government understands that.
To that end we stated clearly in our platform we would reinvest $65 million cut from the classrooms by the NDP government.
As I prepare the budget for the Department of Education for the fiscal year 2014/15, I’m attempting to respond to the concerns brought to our attention by parents and teachers. I’ve stated that any model for allocating money to school boards that’s based totally on enrollment doesn’t work.
This means there’ll be funding attached to programs we know provide opportunities for our students regardless of the enrollment in a school. Some of these programs are related to skilled trades, others are related to students with special needs. We will also be implementing a class cap in the elementary grades and we will be looking to redirect more money into the classrooms to support all students at all grades.
Efficiencies can always be found and it’s our intent to make better use of the funds within the Education Department. It will be difficult to recover and repair the damage done during the last four years, but I’m optimistic a new attitude and appreciation for learning, a focus on math and literacy skills at all grade levels and the support from my government to identify education as a priority will move us toward a better education system where no student is left behind.
Karen Casey is the MLA for Colchester North.