Board losing millions in funding; Director of education says ‘change is upon us’

By Roderick Benns

Board losing millions in funding; Director of education says ‘change is upon us’
Director of Education Larry Hope for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

The widespread cuts to education by the PC government will mean millions of dollars will be lost to the Trillium Lakelands District School Board. However, Director of Education, Larry Hope, says a highly regarded construction program at LCVI can’t solely be blamed on the PC government.

Among other cuts, the board is facing:

  • a $423,000 shortfall for Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).
  • a $526,000 drop in board funding because of new classroom caps for Grades 4-8.
  • a $3.8 million shortfall as secondary class sizes balloon from 22 to 28 students as a cap

On top of that, $2.1 million in local priorities funding is coming to a close, which had been earmarked as short term earlier.

Despite these daunting numbers, Hope contacted the Advocate to point out that the Gold Star construction program was “struggling with enrollment,” and that Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to education were “not the sole reason” for its demise.

For more than 10 years the Gold Star Construction program at LCVI was for senior students, many of whom faced challenges in regular classrooms. The program offered real world work experiences on job sites around Lindsay. It also offered them a range of useful certifications including First Aid, Working at Heights, and Chainsaw operator certification. The program will not return next year, according to the OSSTF.

However, Catherin Shedden, district manager of corporate communications for the board, says it’s important to note that the students who would be interested in a program like Gold Star “have other opportunities to gain similar experience through other choices offered at the school.”

“For instance, LCVI will be running a four credit opportunity with two credits offered in construction and two credits in co-op construction. So very similar learning and experience will continue. There is also a Specialist High Skills Major program in construction offered at the school that provides other enhanced construction skills activities.”

Hope would not say how he feels about the overall cuts from the Ford government, instead simply pointing out that “these folks were elected with a mandate to fulfill.”

“We’ve come to expect a certain degree of support, but we recognize change is upon us…to make things work. This creates a challenge for us,” he notes, adding the school board would work with unions, community partners, and others in the coming months.

The all-important Grants for Student Needs (GSN) is something boards are still waiting to hear about, and Hope says they are “waiting to see what it will look like.”

On the Ontario government’s site it simply reads, “As a result of the review and feedback received from stakeholders, the 2019–20 GSN will reflect modest changes focusing on providing the resources to support outcomes for students and a sustainable funding model that can deliver for years to come.”

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