April 2019 Update
This is a challenging time for everyone in public education. Cuts to education funding have already targeted our most vulnerable students and based on recent provincial announcements more funding cuts are expected to continue. The TDSB has excellent teachers and education workers who support students and their families and we will raise our voices, build awareness, and push back against government decisions that are not based on evidence or are not in the best interest of students. As your local Trustee and a parent of 3 children in TDSB schools I am keenly aware of the potential negative impacts these funding and program changes pose to both immediate student success and the long lasting effects on wellbeing, economic success, and the health of our communities. Please join me on April 2nd at 6:30pm at Secord Public School for a public forum on education funding.
This month's update focuses mainly on changes or proposed changes to education funding and advocacy information but you will also find school, community, and TDSB updates further down in the newsletter.
Provincial Funding Cuts
Over the past few months the Provincial Government has cancelled programs, reduced funding allocations, and proposed funding changes that will result in job losses and dramatic reductions in supports for our students. Many of the program cancellations negatively impact our most vulnerable students and jeopardize the health of our school communities.
2018-19 in-year funding cuts and cancellations:
- Community Use of Schools ($1 million reduction to TDSB)
- Focus on Youth - After school (cancelled) - loss of 72 youth jobs in the TDSB
- Focus on Youth - Summer (on hold) - potential loss of 600 youth summer jobs in the TDSB and loss of support for 11,000 children in high needs communities. Our community partners have stated that this is an important and successful program that engages youth, gets them off the street, and gives them valued references for post-secondary programs and careers. Our community partners also depend on this funding to offer low cost summer programs in high needs communities.
- Re-engagement 12 & 12+ (cancelled) - this funding promotes students returning to school to complete their secondary diploma
- Tutors in the Classroom program (cancelled), which paid university and college students to help tutor
students struggling in school.
- Equitable Postsecondary Access Grant (cancelled)
- Daily Physical Activity Grant (cancelled)
- Technology & Indigenous Professional Development (cancelled)
- Experiential Learning (reduction)
- Closing the Literacy Gap & Techno Math (reduced)
- Funding on hold - Mental Health Workers; Specialist High Skills; plus 12 other grants
March 15th Funding Announcements:
Kindergarten and Primary Grades: While no changes have been announced to FDK or Primary classes parents should be aware that the Ministry of Education has proposed reduced funding for ECE salaries. This will mean a $7.9 million reduction in funding to the TDSB. Please note that TDSB salary contracts with ECEs pre-dates the implementation of FDK and our board already has a $38 million shortfall in the funding provided by the Ministry. Parents should also be aware that the Ministry is currently consulting education partners on potential changes to the FDK staffing model. Any changes will impact elementary level jobs and the overlapping Daycare industry.
Grades 4-8: The Ministry has proposed reduced funding and increased class sizes for the Junior and Intermediate grades (from 23.8 students:1 teacher to 24.5:1). This will result in slightly larger class sizes across the Province. The TDSB's collective agreements require us to maintain a board-wide average of 23.24 students. The Province's funding reduction means loss of funding for 216 TDSB teachers. Since we cannot violate our collective agreements we are faced with a funding shortfall of $9.8 million.
Local Priorities Grant Cancellation: The TDSB used its LGC allocation for the salaries of 49.5 Special Education teachers in elementary schools and 21 Special Education teachers in secondary schools. This funding has been cut.
High School: The Ministry of Education has proposed a decrease in funding for high school from 1 teacher salary per 22 students down to 1 teacher salary per 28 students. Please note that 22:1 is not simply a class size average. Class sizes are based on our collective agreements with our teachers unions - many academic classes are already at 31-34 students, while Applied and Technical class sizes are smaller. The 22:1 funding model allows School Boards to support smaller class sizes for special education, applied learning, technology and training courses, and skilled trades courses which have higher resources or safety needs. Contrary to the Ministry of Education's statements Ontario high school classes are already equivalent to other Provinces including Quebec (with academic class caps of 32) and British Columbia (which reports grades 8-12 class averages of 22). In addition it is important to note that Ontario increased four-year graduation rates from 57% in 2004 to 80% in 2017, and the 5-year graduate rates from 68% to 86.5% in the same time frame, primarily acheived by lowering the class size averages and broadening program offerings. Reduced secondary funding jeopardizes that success. The Ministry has also cancelled the Secondary Programs Grant, which allowed schools to meet their local program needs. This cut means the loss of 72 TDSB teachers. View the class size statements from Director of Education and Chair of the Board.
Based on recent announcements the Provincial Governments is proposing a reduction of 12.91 percent of the Pupil Foundation grant over four years and a reduction of 5.88 percent to the overall GSN over the same period, a reduction that will remove 1.4 billion dollars from Ontario’s public education system. What does this mean for our high school students?
- Loss of >800 front-line secondary teachers in the TDSB based on class size funding cuts.
- Loss of 72 front-line secondary teachers due to cancellation of Secondary Program Grant.
- Fewer caring adults in each school. How do we combat youth violence, addiction and reduced wellbeing with fewer adults for students to connect with?
- Fewer course offerings. Each secondary teacher offers 6 courses. Simple math tells us that the TDSB stands to lose the ability to offer 6400 courses across our secondary schools. Given the large numbers of required courses that students need our education system will lose the courses that enrich student learning, provide them with options to explore post-secondary pathways, and reduce our ability to produce globally competent graduates.
- Fewer extracurricular programs. Despite what the Minister of Education implied with respect to students joining "band clubs" rather than having music class, it is our Teachers who offer, support, supervise, or run clubs, sports, and extracurricular programs for our students. Lost teaching jobs means lost access to the extracurricular programs that help strengthen our school communities and increase engagement.
- Reduced funding for courses specialized classes. While the Ministry has stated that they want support applied learning and encourage skilled trades these are amongst the smaller classes in school boards. Access to equipment, the need to manage safety, the need for lower student:teacher ratios, and the ability to teach specialized skills all require class sizes well below the proposed funding model. Elective courses that fall into the skilled or applied learning category are at greater risk than larger class academic electives.
I will add my own perspective on the Minister of Education's comments regarding post-secondary education and resilience. Universities and Colleges have not asked the government to increase secondary class sizes. Success any post-secondary pathway requires solid foundations in critical thinking and global competencies that allow students to apply their core knowledge to real world challenges. Universities and Colleges also do not prefer large lectures, nor are large lecture formats the norm for most programs of study. What the Minister failed to include is that the larger first-year lectures have small-group laboratory and tutorial sessions as well as mandatory professor and TA office hours to support one-on-one instruction. Any course that requires skill acquisition, applied learning, or higher level critical thinking is offered in a small class format. I have taught 4th year university courses that were less 30 students, las and tutorials with 15 students, post-graduate courses with as few as 5 students, and research-writing courses with one-on-one instruction. Students succeed at all ages and levels when provided with appropriate learning supports. E-Learning: The Ministry of Education has proposed a mandate for students to take at least 4 e-Learning courses as part of their secondary diploma requirements. The Province has asked stakeholders to consult on its "e-Learning vision", however currently there are no proposed models or details available. Our TDSB students already have access to e-Learning for additional course options and summer learning. In addition our teachers incorporate online learning and work as part of their course work, starting in elementary school. Self contained e-Learning courses are not appropriate for all students and is not a substitute for classroom instruction. Depending on the model e-learning may not contain the in-person supports needed for the success of many students. The Province has proposed a Provincially-run format for e-learning courses, which would undermine the local needs of students within school boards, further remove local teachers from contact with students, and potentially farm out learning to private corporations. There are also significant equity issues around accessing e-learning courses. Current data shows that only a minority of students succeed and those students are concentrated in high achieving schools. The Province does not provide access to the equipment needed to take e-learning courses nor do all of our students have access to computers or the internet at home. While most boards would welcome the funding to develop additional e-learning resources the Ministry's proposal does not currently support local program development.
School-based Staffing: In the absence of funding announcements from the Ministry of Education but with a need to honour our Collective Agreements the Board has approved only an interim staffing model for schools, including classroom teachers, ECEs, Spec Ed teachers, and Librarians. We know this presents challenges for staff in planning for the coming year. We hope to have full GSN information after the Provincial budget announcements on April 11th, which will allow the Board to complete its staffing and full budget.
Education Job Losses: Proposed reduction of funding for grades 4-8, reduced funding for grades 9-12, loss of individual grants such as the Local Priorities Grant, and reduction in the School Operating Grants are estimated to result in overall losses of ~9,500 teaching and education support jobs across the Province as well as reduction to in-school resources and potentially closing of smaller community schools. Mandatory e-learning would eliminate a further 500 teaching jobs. These cuts will have long term impacts not only on existing teachers but to those new graduates who aspire to enter the education professions.
EQAO Status: It is important for parents to note that an independent, external review of Provincial Standardized Testing was conducted over the course of 2017-18. Lead by Dr. Carol Campbell, an expert panel conducted consultations with over 5000 participants from education stakeholders to Ontario families. A number of recommendations to modernize and optimize Provincial testing were presented. The current government has rejected the review and is proposing its own changes to EQAO, but I feel it is important that parents read the independent review and are aware of its recommendations. We need to ensure that any continued spending on standardized testing is in the best interest of our students and meets international standards for education and evaluation. You can find the Executive Summary here and the Ontario- A Learning Province - Full Review here.
Education Changes - What can we do?
Many community members have asked for help in advocating for student success and challenging proposed funding cuts. There are several options for concerned parents, school councils, and community members:
- Attend the "Taking Action" Community Meeting on April 2nd, 6:30pm at Secord Public School (see poster, at left). Hosted by the Secord School Council this meeting will involve a panel discussion with local MPP's Rima Berns-McGown, Peter Tabuns, myself, and education partners.
- Join me and other TDSB Trustees at the Education Rally at Queen's Park at noon on April 6th. If you can make it a family outing, even better.
- Write to the Minister of Education and your local MPP challenging the program cancellations, funding cuts, and changes to class sizes. Only "education partners" have been invited to consult about FDK and e-learning however nothing is preventing our education community from voicing their opinions. A letter from TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey to the Minister Thompson will be coming shortly, in the mean time Template letters can be found below or you can find letter templates via teacher's unions and advocacy groups:
- OSSTF template
- My letter to Minister Thompson
- Contact Information for Ontario MPPs
- Make a motion through your School Council to write to the Ministry of Education and to the TDSB advocating for continued funding and programs that support student success.
- Join the East End Parents for Public Education Network to coordinate advocacy efforts and strengthen voices. Visit https://www.facebook.com/eastend.parents or email EastEndParents4EDU@gmail.com.
- Follow Ontario Families for Public Education for more information, resources, and events. They have excellent infographics and resources to share with your community.
Have Your Say! TDSB Budget Priorities Consultations
In the face of uncertain Provincial funding but maintaining a goal to address Equity and the goals of the Multi-Year Strategic Plan the TDSB has developed a set of priorities or strategic budget drivers to guide development of the 2019-2020 Budget. The TDSB needs feedback from parents, staff, and community members to help fine tune the budget process. There are a number of ways to provide feedback including More information and resources, including videos of key Finance and Budget (FBEC) training sessions, Q&As about the budget, The Powerpoint Budget Presentation, the Budget Discussion Guide, and TDSB financial information can be found on the 2019-2020 Budget page of the TDSB website.
Ward 16 School News
- The Secord P.S. School Council is hosting a community forum on April 2nd at 6:30pm on Education Funding Changes. This is a public forum titled "Taking Action Against Education Cuts" will feature a panel discussion with local MPP's, Trustees, and key education stakeholders. Please consider attending to get more information on how to connect with other families and support education.
- As you may be aware, there is a Province-wide student walkout being planned for Thursday, April 4th at 1:15 p.m. The walkout is to protest the Ontario government’s recently announced changes to education, including funding cuts, increased class size averages, mandatory e-learning and the banning of cellphones. Students are entitled to express themselves individually and collectively in ways that are constructive, respectful and responsible. This is consistent with the TDSB’s commitment to honour student voice. To ensure student safety the Principals at each school have been given protocols for supervision and support of our students. Please contact your school's Administration for any local questions or concerns.
- In recognition of World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, we will Raise the Flag at TDSB offices along with Autism Ontario and 300 schools and municipalities across the province.
- The Camille Natale Awards 2019 - The annual Camille Natale Awards reflect OSSTF Toronto’s belief in the power of student action to make a difference for peace, social justice, equity, and human rights locally and globally. Two awards of $250.00 are available. Nominations are due April 5th, 2019. More information and nomination/application forms can be found here.
- Although Earth Hour was observed on March 29th in our schools it is important to note that the TDSB and its schools have acheived a significant reduction energy use over the years. Please visit our Earth Hour resource page to find out more.
- Bowmore's Make It Fair happens April 13th from 11am - 3pm. Makers and learners of all sorts are invited to partake of this pay-what-you-can family event at Bowmore Rd. Public School.
- Congratulations to Malvern's Junior Boys Hockey team for winning the City Finals!
- It's playoff and tournament season for many of our school teams including swim teams, badminton, and ball hockey! Thank-you to the G.A. Brown M.S. badminton and O'Connor P.S. girls ball hockey for sharing your teams successes!
- Congratulations to all our local school teams that competed or participated in STEAM Fairs this month. It is wonderful to see so many schools building embracing robotics and STEAM initiatives.
Visit www.TorontoWard16.ca for a calendar view of events and activities. If you'd like to add an event to the calendar or add it to one of my newsletters please let me know!
Community News and Events
Grant for Pollinator Gardens
Through its new PollinateTO Community Grants, the City is offering grants of up to $5,000 to support community-led projects that:
- create pollinator gardens and rain gardens on public and private lands, including residential streets, neighbourhoods and school yards
- enhance or expand existing gardens with native pollinator-friendly plants
- Native pollinators are under threat from climate change, habitat loss and other stressors. You can help! Learn more and apply by May 1. Visit livegreentoronto.ca for more information.
Free Community Movie
- "The Woman Who Loves Giraffes" with filmmaker Alison Reid and Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. Sunday April 7th at 2pm at the Fox Theatre. Hosted my MP Nate Erskine-Smith. Limited free tickets available at beynate.ca or 416-467-0860.
Beaches Easter Parade and Easter Egg Hunt
- Easter Sunday (Western), Sun. Apr. 21 starting at 2pm. The Beaches Lions Club 53rd Annual Easter Parade, along Queen St. E.
- The Easter Egg hunt will take place in Kew Gardens. There will be a dedicated Easter Egg Hunt space for children to go in and find plastic eggs (max. 3) scattered throughout. Once the eggs are collected, please go to one of the Information Tents to redeem the eggs for a special Easter treat. Please BYOBasket.
Clean Toronto Together
- On Friday, April 26th at 2:00 p.m. students, staff, and parents from across Toronto are encouraged to help rejuvenate our city’s green spaces by picking up litter in their schoolyard, neighbourhood park, or local community. Register your school today! Families can also join Toronto’s annual spring cleanup events on Saturday, April 27th and Sunday, April 28th. Let's Go Ward 16!
Make Someone's Prom a Night to Remember!
- In collaboration with Division 55 and Eastview Community Centre please consider donating gently used formal wear including dresses, suits & ties, handbags, jewelery, shoes, and clothes hangars. Dropoffs April 29th at Eastview Neighbourhood CC.
Danforth East Community Arts Fair 2019
- Hold the dates! A call for artists and artisans for #DECAF19 is coming on March 31st and the fair dates are September 14 to 15, 2019. Watch for the launch of their shiny new website with more details here.
Community Centre 55 Daily Essentials Program
- New to Community Centre 55, the program provides hygiene products to low-income families and seniors. This bi-monthly program needs community support. Donations of shampoo, conditioner, tooth paste, feminine products, soap, deodorant, diapers and shower gel are very welcome, as are gift cards and monetary donations. Donations may be dropped off at Community Centre 55 (97 Main Street), Monday to Thursday, 9-9, Friday 9-5, Saturday 10-1 and Sunday 11-3.
For more information contact Community Centre 55 at 416-691-1113.
TDSB News & April Heritage Months
Nominations are now open for the TDSB Excellence Awards. Recognizing our staff not only celebrates their accomplishments and efforts, it inspires others to excel in their own roles.
During the Month of April Celebrate Sikh HM, Hispanic HM and Latin-America History HM!
Sikh Heritage Month is celebrated at the TDSB during the month of April. The theme for the year is A Century of Pioneer Families, from 1919 to 2020.
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the outstanding achievements and contributions of Hispanic people. Resources are available through the TDSB Professional Library.
Latin-America History Planning Committee has organized many educational opportunities for our students, staff, and the TDSB community to attend and learn about their history, culture and customs. They year’s theme is The Universal Language of Art / Arte: El Idioma Universa. Stay tuned for the name and poster from our poster competition.
School Year Calendar 2018-2019
- The last day of class for elementary students is June 27, 2019
- The last day of class for secondary (full-year) students is June 25, 2019
- The last day of class for secondary (semestered) students is June 26, 2019
Remaining PA Days & Statutory Holidays
Also please note Days of Significance - click for the complete list
- Good Friday April 19, 2019
- Easter Monday April 22, 2019
- Victoria Day May 20, 2019
- Elementary School PA Day June 7, 2019
- Secondary School PA Day (Full Year Schools only)* June 26, 2019
- Secondary School PA Day June 27, 2019
- Board-wide PA Day June 28, 2019
- You may also find this Days of Significance Resource Guide helpful
- Passover 2019 will begin in the evening of Friday, April 19th and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 27th (first 2 and last 2 days are considered holy)
- Ramadan 2019 will begin in the evening of Sunday, May 5th and ends in the evening of Tuesday, June 4th (Dates may vary)
- Eid al-Fitr celebrated at the end of Ramadan will begin on Tuesday, June 4th
- Gr. 9 Math: 2nd Semester: June 5-18, 2019
- Primary/Junior EQAO: May 21-June 3, 2019