"Our investments are intended to have the greatest, positive impact on students possible," says Peel board chair
Trustees of the Peel District School Board approved a balanced, operating budget of $1.92 billion for the 2018-19 school year, subject to Ministry of Education approval. Within this amount, local priorities funding of $16.3 million has been allocated to the board to provide additional staffing, as per the central labour agreements. Most of the $1.92 billion is allocated to fixed costs—salaries and benefits, busing, classroom resources and technology, maintenance, utilities and other day-to-day costs.
"We came to the table, focused on the projects in our Plan for Student Success, bringing the voices of our community with us. I'm very pleased that we have remained, throughout the years, a board that is steadfast in its student-focus, setting budget priorities that put students first, always," notes Chair of the Board Janet McDougald during her remarks at the Regular Meeting of the Board on June 5, 2018. "Every decision we made, each item added to the budget, each taken away, all reflect the plan's four priority areas and our key projects. They have truly guided our work. Our investments are intended to have the greatest, positive impact on students possible."
The board's Plan for Student Success goals include:
- high expectations for achievement
- parent, community and staff engagement
- equity and inclusion
- safe, positive, healthy climate/well-being
In addition to working with Peel staff to develop the budget, the board sought input from the board's leadership team, principals, vice-principals and employee group leaders. To gather further input, the board used an online survey and received nearly 500 responses from staff, students, families, School Council members and community members.
Notes McDougald, "What we heard from our community were repeated calls for increased funding for special education, mental health supports, technology, transportation, facilities upgrades and professional development for staff."
Approximately $1.8 million from board reserves were needed to support one-time business cases in order to balance the budget. The following enhancements for students were approved:
- an equity and inclusion coordinator to support board equity initiatives
- additional teaching assistant (TA) support for students with special education needs, including 26 new TA positions, conversion of 44 long-term occasional (LTO) TA positions to permanent, and the addition of 31 new LTO TAs to support fall transitions
- a coordinating principal of TA allocation
- five new PSSP positions (Psychologist/Social Worker/Speech Language Pathologist)
- two additional transition facilitators
- an additional teacher for home instruction
- an assistive technology coordinator
- an additional Information Technology analyst to support special education equipment
- six resource teachers to support the board's We Welcome the World Centres
- an additional technology resource teacher
- an additional experiential learning coordinator
- an additional instructional resource teacher for eLearning
- two additional Student Success Specialist High Skills Major program support teachers
- two additional staff to support employee wellness
- Human Resources recruitment staff to help the board attract and retain staff
- additional secondary and elementary teachers to support enrolment increases, special education and other emerging needs
- $400,000 dedicated to support the creation of dynamic, outdoor learning spaces for kindergarten
Explained McDougald, "Steadfast in our commitment to achieving inclusion through continuous progress on equity, we will hire an equity and inclusion coordinator to support board equity initiatives. This individual will be the lead point person for our We Rise Together action plan, which was created to identify, understand, minimize and eliminate the marginalization experienced by Black male students in Peel schools. This individual will also support the board's anti-poverty initiatives and will work alongside existing Equity staff to deliver a comprehensive strategy to support students from other marginalized communities including students living in poverty, and students who identify as Indigenous and/or LGBTQ+."
Continued McDougald, "We will still spend more than our allocated funding to support students with special education needs because these needs continue to grow. This is the case across the province, which tells me that the overall funding for special education is insufficient. Some of the funding will be used towards special education staffing. For the fifth consecutive year, we will increase the number of TAs in our schools."
Media contact: Janet McDougald, Chair, Peel District School Board, firstname.lastname@example.org, 905-278-1402
Reference: Carla Pereira, Director of Communications and Community Relations, Peel District School Board, email@example.com, 905-890-1010 ext. 2812
Note to media: Download the full text of Chair McDougald's budget remarks. Budget Meeting Remarks - Chair McDougald