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Budget cuts plague TDSB… Again.

November 6th, 2012 · No Comments

Trustees uneasy as further cuts made to schools

Provincial government recently froze funding approvals for more than a dozen TDSB building projects after the board went $11 million over budget on Regent Park’s Nelson Mandela Park Public School rebuild. Photo by Samina Esha.

By Samina Esha

The Toronto District School Board has been under constant scrutiny after an additional $46.4 million was cut from their their 2012/2013.

These cuts included the closing of 32 school cafeterias and increasing fees for people that use school facilities by 41 per cent – cuts one trustee warned could have major effects.

“Any time you take money out of the system as tight as ours, there are major impacts, and they are usually negative,” said Trustee Sheila Cary-Meagher, Ward 16, Beaches East York.

While TDSB chair, Chris Bolton, Ward 10, Trinity-Spadina shared similar concerns he said the impact of the cuts will depend on the size of the school and student enrolment.

“We have many small schools in the Annex and there is increasing pressure on the area and on the board to make larger schools as oppose to having smaller community schools,” said Bolton.

“With the help of the community we can try to save schools with 200 or 300 students, but for schools smaller than that it is harder.”

Earlier this spring, the TDSB approved $50.8 million in staff cuts. This included 134 school secretaries, 17 vice-principals, 200 high school teachers, 10 caretakers, and six hall safety monitors. Despite the foreboding numbers, Sharon Janes, Principal of Palmerston Avenue Junior Public School said she is optimistic.

“We are still the same status quo that we were before and so far we have not been affected…I believe the board is working very hard,” said Janes.

The cutting of 430 educational assistants was a major decision according to Trustee Jerry Chadwick, Ward 22, and Chair of TDSB’s budget committee.

“Due to province mandated full-day kindergarten, the classes are bigger and each teacher is now responsible for 25 to 30 students without an EA…while Annex [schools] had EA’s in classrooms, Scarborough never had that facility,” said Chadwick.

Chadwick said he hoped the educational board would not have to go through the same deficit situation every year.
“Any decision we make in terms of cuts are hard decisions and no one wanted to make them but based on our funding we had to,” he said.

Bolton said it will fall to the community to make sure public education maintains its standards through supportive community involvement. “If everyone joined hands and continued education we can make our basis stronger and make sure that the local schools are the heart of the community.”

With files from Richard Frankel

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