Tak­ing ed­u­ca­tion to task

More K-12 ed­u­ca­tional out­come rec­om­men­da­tions be­com­ing a re­al­ity this year

The Compass - - Editorial - BY KENN OLIVER kenn.oliver@thetele­gram.com

Fif­teen of the rec­om­men­da­tions from the pre­mier’s task force on im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tional out­comes are al­ready in place in K-12 schools through­out the prov­ince.

By Septem­ber of this year, Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment Dale Kirby says, over half of the 82 to­tal rec­om­men­da­tions will be im­ple­mented thanks to a $6.9-mil­lion ex­pen­di­ture in this year’s pro­vin­cial bud­get.

The big-ticket item is $3.1 mil­lion for read­ing spe­cial­ists, learn­ing re­source teach­ers and in­struc­tional as­sis­tants in the K-12 ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

“The plan is to en­sure that we have far more in­ter­ven­tion when it comes to read­ing and math­e­mat­ics and then also more sup­port when it comes to spe­cial ser­vices,” says Kirby, not­ing the pro­gram will start with 40 pi­lot schools this fall and will even­tu­ally be al­lo­ca­tion based.

“All schools in the prov­ince will have ad­di­tional re­sources as a re­sult of this bud­get, but as we roll out the new mod­els of read­ing in­ter­ven­tion, math­e­matic sup­port and spe­cial ser­vices, more schools will be com­ing on.”

Nearly $1 mil­lion has been set aside for gov­ern­ment re­sources to sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

“Those are peo­ple who are spe­cial­ists in read­ing, math­e­mat­ics, spe­cial ser­vices, mul­ti­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion, In­dige­nous ed­u­ca­tion, peo­ple at the de­part­ment level and district level who will be help­ing to roll all of that out.”

The gov­ern­ment will also spend $1.9 mil­lion this year to sup­port pro­fes­sional learn­ing for teach­ers, with a com­mit­ment of al­most $2 mil­lion for the next three years.

New­found­land and Labrador Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (NLTA) pres­i­dent Dean In­gram called the moves pos­i­tive, and said he was par­tic­u­larly pleased with gov­ern­ment rec­og­niz­ing the prob­lems sur­round­ing in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion.

“We’ve known that for years, we’ve been say­ing that for years, and cer­tainly echo­ing what par­ents, stu­dents and teach­ers have had to say to us con­sis­tently about their con­cerns with in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion. These are all things that need to be ad­dressed. I’m pleased that there seems to be a plan there,” In­gram said. “I know there’s a move to ad­dress and re­vise stu­dent sup­port ser­vices pol­icy, which we’re look­ing for­ward to be­ing part of.”

Where In­gram says the gov­ern­ment missed out in this bud­get was in ad­dress­ing class size and class com­po­si­tion, move­ment on the NLTA’s school coun­sel­lor and school psy­chol­o­gist rec­om­men­da­tions, and a re­turn of the school ad­min­is­tra­tor al­lo­ca­tions.

“Right now, so­ci­etal is­sues tend to find their ways into schools. In or­der for prin­ci­pals and vice-prin­ci­pals to ad­e­quately deal with those, they need to have time to do so,” In­gram said, point­ing to is­sues like ex­te­rior threats, so­cial me­dia and the im­pend­ing cannabis leg­is­la­tion.

Other ex­pen­di­tures in­clude $500,000 for learn­ing re­source sup­ports and school li­braries; $113,000 for youth ap­pren­tice­ship/co-op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion; and $40,000 in bur­saries for K-6 teach­ers to up­grade math ped­a­gogy.

Ed­u­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing plans in­clude $15.5 mil­lion for re­pairs and main­te­nance of ex­ist­ing schools and $11.4 mil­lion to be­gin con­struc­tion of an in­ter­me­di­ate school in Par­adise and a re­place­ment for the Co­ley’s Point Pri­mary in Bay Roberts.

There’s also $4.3 mil­lion to com­plete an ex­ten­sion for Mo­bile Cen­tral High School, $1.4 mil­lion to plan for a new fran­co­phone school and re­place­ment for Bay d’Espoir Academy, and $900,000 for a new school bus de­pot in Cor­ner Brook.

Early child­hood

de­vel­op­ment

Early child­hood de­vel­op­ment is al­lo­cated $61.6 mil­lion — $22 mil­lion of which is com­ing over three years through a bi­lat­eral agree­ment un­der the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s child care strat­egy.

“This sup­ports early learn­ing and child care op­tions through sub­si­dies, grants, bur­saries and pro­fes­sional learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Os­borne said in his bud­get speech.

The prov­ince will spend $12.4 mil­lion to ex­pand and en­hance the op­er­at­ing grant pro­gram for child care ser­vice providers and to cre­ate a new op­er­at­ing grant pro­gram for reg­u­lated fam­ily child care homes.

There’s also $3 mil­lion for the child care ser­vices sub­sidy pro­gram.

Other ex­pen­di­tures in­clude $1.5 mil­lion to en­hance the child care ca­pac­ity ini­tia­tive by fur­ther in­creas­ing the net fam­ily in­come thresh­old (af­ter in­come test­ing) to $35,000, $1.7 mil­lion for ad­min­is­tra­tion of pro­grams and ser­vices, $3 mil­lion for the cap­i­tal ren­o­va­tion grant pro­gram and new qual­ity im­prove­ment grant for li­censed child care cen­tres, and $450,000 for in­creased bur­saries and grants for pro­fes­sional learn­ing for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors.

Dean In­gram

Dale Kirby

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