PRESENTATION TO THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD BUDGET CRISIS by icecube

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									                                                   PRESENTATION
                                                          TO THE
                                  TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD

                   BUDGET CRISIS CONSULTATION
                        September 19, 2006
      “The root cause of this crisis is the flawed funding formula”

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council represents 195,000 women and men
who work in every sector of the economy. For many years, our Council has fought
for education policies and programs that give Toronto’s students what they need to
succeed, both in the classroom and throughout their lifetime.

Today, both of Toronto’s publicly-funded school boards have been forced into yet
another budget crisis by the provincial government. Massive cuts loom at both
school boards, despite the huge revenue surplus at Queen’s Park. Even programs
and services that survived the Harris Conservatives are on the chopping block.

In 1998, the Harris government appropriated our local education taxes (collected
as part of our property taxes). The money was pooled provincially, but their
funding formula never covered the full cost of school utilities, salaries or
maintenance. Toronto is particular was a target, because of its record of
progressive programs and services for working class and newcomer students.
Between 1998 and 2003 the government cut 35% of funding in real dollars from
Toronto Public Schools.

Unfortunately the McGuinty government still has not fixed the funding formula. The
Toronto District School Board is missing $84 million and the Toronto Catholic District
School board is short $34.5 million. Boards all over Ontario have operating funds
deficits, and are using reserve funds, cuts to special needs and other programs, or
closing schools, in order to achieve a compliance budget.

It seems that the Liberals are playing the role of telling Ontarians that we must
adjust to the “new normal” of decreased public services that the Tories imposed on
our society. We could have reproduced our Council’s presentation to the Rozanski
hearings four years ago, and by merely changing a few names its would still apply
to the situation today.
                                        -2-

In our view, the following are the key elements that TDSB Trustees should take
under considerations:

!     The root cause of this crisis is the flawed funding formula

!     The province is not just delinquent on school funding, but also refuses to
      address the massive cost of social service downloading onto municipalities, or
      to restore the traditional transit funding needed for the TTC to do its job

!     The province needs to, at a minimum, meet the recommendations of the
      Rozanski report

!     A massive backlog of building repairs still exists, and cannot be deferred
      significantly without incurring greater future costs

!     That continued investment in energy savings retrofits and upgrades of TDSB
      properties will pay back many times in utility savings

!     The initiative on Model Schools for Inner Cities must be continued and
      expanded

!     The capacity of the TDSB to deliver on a much-needed equity agenda needs
      to be a priority - including restoring School Community Advisors and
      providing adequate staff for the work identified in the Labour Council’s
      earlier submission to the TDSB (attached)

There is no way that the TDSB can uphold its obligation to the residents of Toronto
to provide quality, accessible education while cutting millions of dollars from its
budget. In fact, more needs to be invested in order to meet the crucial needs of this
changing city. Our school system must have the programs and resources to build a
strong relationship with students and families from newcomer communities and the
growing number of at-risk neighbourhoods in Canada’s largest urban centre.

Labour Council supports the efforts of Trustees to resist cuts to the 2006 Budget,
and calls for the provincial government to change its approach to this crisis by
fixing the funding formula.

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