Province announces changes to education policy/funding
“Class size funding
The Minister of Education has announced that school boards will be funded for average class sizes in secondary school of 23 students.
This is up from previous years when boards received funding for high school teachers at a rate of 1 teacher for every 22 students. However it is a significant drop from the originally announced plan of average class size funding at a rate of 28 to 1. Class size funding for grades 4 to 8 will remain at 24.5 (up from 23.84 in previous years).
Changing the average class size funding from 22 to 23 will result in approximately 1,000 fewer teacher positions in high schools. For school boards and schools, this reduces some of their flexibility to offer a range of classes.
The Minister also announced that while 2 e-learning courses are still mandatory for graduation, parents will be able to opt their children out of online courses if they choose. In response to the e-learning announcement, the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association said, “We are still troubled by parents having to opt their students out of the [e-learning] course mandate, as opposed to high school students being able to make this decision for their own education.” Experts also raised concerns that the “opt-out” choice may be more likely to be used by those with the social capital and the knowledge of the system that would make them more comfortable coming forward.
Local Priorities Fund
The province has also re-instated the Local Priorities Fund, now called the Support for Students Fund. This funding was introduced in 2017/18 to provide supports for students-at-risk. It provided boars with $235.4 million per year. According to the province, the newly named fund will provide boards with “more flexibility to address students’ unique learning needs, including special education, mental health, and STEM education.”
Ontario Announces a Fair Plan to Keep Students in Class
Government Plan Freezes Classroom Sizes, Invests in Special Education, and Holds the Line on Wages and Benefits
TORONTO — The Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, today confirmed the Government has made additional, reasonable proposals at the negotiating table to fight for the priorities of students and parents, with a single focus on ending this impasse.
During the negotiation process, the Government tabled proposals with each of the teacher unions, which included substantive moves on lower than proposed but not lower than on the ground class sizes, support for students’ unique learning needs, full-day kindergarten, as well as reasonable proposals on merit-based hiring and compensation.
Despite these consistently reasonable moves, the teachers’ unions continue to reject the Government’s student-centric proposals while simultaneously focusing on significant increases in compensation, particularly enriching generous benefits schemes.
Today, the Government is announcing the most recent proposal put forward to all teacher unions, with a focus on getting a deal:
- A commitment to a funded maximum average class size of 23 in secondary schools – leaving them essentially the same as 2019-2020;
- Replace the previous Local Priorities Fund with a new, student-centric Supports for Students Fund, which allows boards more flexibility to address students’ unique learning needs, including special education, mental health, and STEM education;
- The Supports for Students Fund would continue at the same funding amount of the Local Priorities Fund.
- A commitment to maintain full-day kindergarten; and
- Reasonable increases in wages and compensation.
The Government is also announcing a policy to give parents the ability to opt their children out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation.
The Government is calling on the unions to cancel future strikes during this period to allow for good faith bargaining. Moreover, the Government continues to make the case for the advancement of merit-based hiring.
“The time to end this is now. Parents are frustrated, students are losing educational days, and teachers are uncertain about their future,” said Minister Lecce. “I am asking the teachers’ unions to return to the table, in light of this reasonable offer, to reach the agreement parents want, and students deserve.”
These proposals demonstrate the Government’s commitment to getting students back in the classroom, investing in our students’ potential while supporting the school boards’ planning processes.
“This is a balanced plan that reflects the priorities of students and parents, maintaining class sizes, investing in students’ unique learning needs, and holds the line on the reasonable increase in wages and compensation we are offering.”
“If the unions reject this most recent, student-centric offer, parents should rightly be asking what exactly are the priorities of the unions,” concluded Minister Lecce.
- The Government’s plan includes no changes to class size for our youngest learners in Junior Kindergarten through grade 3. There are no changes to class size for students in grades 4 to 8. Provincial funding, and legislated class size restrictions, would change for grades 9-12 to reflect an average class size of 23. This is effectively the same as 2019-20.
- The Ministry of Education provides the framework, funding, and flexibility needed to support school boards in meeting class size requirements for all grades across the province. Local school boards are responsible for class organization.
- The Ministry of Education will continue to move forward on a made-in-Ontario online learning program that will ensure student flexibility, technological literacy and a wide selection of courses. By expanding and modernizing online learning, students will have greater flexibility, more choice, and will graduate with the skills needed to enter the workforce.
- The Ministry of Education understands that parents know best how their children can adapt and learn through online courses, by giving parents the option to opt out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation. As students prepare to enter Grade 11 and 12, parents will have the opportunity to engage with their child’s guidance counsellor to determine whether online learning is appropriate and beneficial for their child.
- The Supports for Students Fund will provide a total of $148 million, an amount equivalent to the remaining amount of the previously negotiated Local Priorities Fund, in the last round of bargaining.