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 small and larger classes and courses.
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.”