Provincial funding announcements may affect programs for students at risk
On Friday, December 14th, the Ministry of Education sent memos to school boards across the province outlining a range of areas where funding is going to be reduced or discontinued. Funding for the programs affected had been announced in a memo to school boards in March, 2018. None of the announcements affected Grants for Student Needs (the core funding for education), but are included in a category call Education Programs – Other.
The grants where funding is being discontinued include:
- SpeakUP – grants for students in grades 7 to 12 to lead projects promoting student engagement
- Equitable access to post-secondary education – a fund boards could apply to for programs that supported students from grades 10 to 12 who:
- have low secondary school credit accumulation and/or are achieving below the provincial average
- are taking applied and/or locally developed courses
- are disengaged and/or may not be considering post-secondary education after high school.
- Focus on Youth – funding to support after-school programs and job experience for young people in high needs neighbourhoods.
- Tutors in the classroom – a program that helped boards pay post-secondary students to work as tutors in JK to Grade 6 classrooms.
- Regional equity networks – funding from the province to bring school boards together to “build upon and embed cultures of equity and human rights in all aspects of board and school practices, policies, programs and operations.”
- Re-engagement 12&12+ – a program where staff and teachers individually contacted thousands of students who had quit school, to assist them in getting back in, so that they could graduate.
- Indigenous focused collaborative inquiry – funding to support teams of teachers and board staff, working with members of First Nations, Métis or Inuit communities to develop projects to support Indigenous young people to succeed.
- Innovation in Learning – a fund for school boards to provide support for professional development and innovations in teaching and learning, so that students develop global competencies (sometimes called transferable skills or 21st century skills)
Grants where funding is being reduced include:
- Well-Being: Safe, Accepting and Healthy Schools and Mental Health – funding to support “students’ whole experience at school” including things like student mental health, equity, student voice, and collaborative professionalism.
Grants with no current funding updates include:
- Parent Reaching Out Grants: – funding to support school councils, boards, and community organizations in identifying barriers to parent engagement and involving more parents “in support of student achievement, human rights and equity, and well-being.”
- Indigenous student learning and leadership gatherings (p.11)– funding for boards to develop and implement programs that provide leadership development opportunities for Indigenous students.
- Highly skilled workforce – includes funding for things like Specialist High Skills Majors (for both English- and French-language systems), Career Studies, and Experiential Learning for Adult Learners.
- Supporting cannabis legalization – funding to support education materials for students and parents, system leaders, and targeted resources for school mental health workers and resources linked to Ontario curriculum.
- Ontario Equity Action Plan – funding to support the “implementation of Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, Parent Engagement policy, and to share promising practices…across the province.”
School boards across Ontario are still trying to determine the full impact of these funding changes, but they have raised concerns that the announcements will have a disproportionate impact on students-at-risk. Boards have also pointed out that it is difficult to plan and budget effectively when changes to funding are made mid-year.