Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grants out Friday

Though I await official confirmation from the Ministry of Education (they're getting back to me Tuesday), I did hear from a school board treasurer Monday that the 2010-11 board-by-board Grants for Student Needs (GSNs) are being released Friday, March 26.
This is bang-on somewhat the same timing as in 2009-- a provincial budget on a Thursday, followed by the GSN release the next morning. The ministry has notified school boards of an AM webconference with officials (possibly the minister as well) where they're all flip through the same slides together and learn their financial fate for the coming year.
Some boards are already well into their 2010-11 budget process, already having identified the traditional areas they believe they will face a shortfall in. While I'm expecting the opposition parties and some non-governmental groups (IE: People for Education) will be making some noise about the lack of a promised 'full review' of the Education Funding Formula, I don't think many boards will care. The reality is they've all been working with this formula (as continually modified and amended) for 12 years now, so it's old hat. Boards know where they're underfunded and with a few notable exceptions every budget year are able to shuffle the funds to at least provide status quo.
I would expect, based on the last year, to see some of the following:
  • The second year of implementation of the cuts to professional development, computers and textbooks announced in the 2009-10 GSNs
  • Continued support for salary benchmark and teacher-experience grants per the provincial framework agreements
  • Capital funding to be all over the map as some boards will still be receiving grants from various different current and expired programs whereas others will see the drop from the end of the primary class size capital funding
  • It would greatly surprise me to see any overall increase higher than 1% in the GSNs. Given enrolment continues to fall, I'm predicting this is the first of a few years where the government will be firmer on asking boards to make up the rising costs of salaries, utilities and programs (like the ELP components funded by the GSN) from their costs that should be dropping as a result of Good Places to Learn upgrades and enrolment/capital condition driven school consolidations and closures.
The unknown at this point, unless its spelled out at the same time as the GSN release Friday, is how the year one commitment for full-day kindergarten works outside the grants. From what I've understood, those boards running half-time programs now will receive equivalent funding inside the GSN. The funds to cover the balance of teachers' costs to get to a full-day everyday program and ECE costs are coming 'outside' the GSN.
It's from this outside pot that concerns arise that the dollars committed in year one (or total) won't be enough to adequately fund the program or leave the fees for the mandated before- and after-school programs for four- and five-year-olds prohibitively expensive.
I'm scheduled for office hours Friday, sort of, so I hope to be able to post that day on the GSN release. If not, I will throw something up this weekend.


Anonymous said...

"non government groups like People for Education"

the have received gov't money in the past. Check MOE's financial statements.

Maybe their gravy train is about to end?

You are right in your sentiments that their lament will raise few eyebrows. It's getting old and at a time of economic uncertainty a bit of a disconnect as well.

Anonymous said...

I expect the new numbers will be posted in an update to Sunshine Ontario Schools soon as well.

Anonymous said...

Hugo - your column in the LFP today re: fewer teaching jobs but lots of grads being pumped out of teaching faculties is very good!

Any chance you could post here?


Education Reporter said...

Have been delinquent here—— have a post or two on the grants pending.

To the teachers' college / teaching jobs stuff, I have to wait until it's published before I link here. I had a followup article after the dean called for a conversation on that piece as well.