McGuinty Government Strengthens Rural Schools, Ensures Success For Students
All Ontario students -- including those in small, rural communities -- deserve an equal opportunity for a quality education.
The McGuinty government recognizes the unique challenges facing rural schools and is committed to fixing the funding formula to help students succeed.
The government's new $31-million investment for the 2004-05 school year will help put rural schools on a similar financial footing as urban schools.
Every school board in Ontario with rural schools, 1,149 such schools in all, will benefit from this investment. Boards will no longer have to redirect money from other priorities -- such as programs for students -- to cover their core costs.
This new funding will recognize an expanded list of rural schools -- broadening the definition of rural and better meeting the needs of students across the province. Statistics Canada census data and postal code information will be used to ensure that all rural schools are identified and funded fairly.
Key Facts Regarding Rural Schools
Under the previous government, there were a record number of school closures. From 1998 to 2003, boards closed 362 schools. Of these, 29 per cent or 106, were rural schools.
Under the previous government, 683 schools were identified as rural, compared with 1,149 under the current government.
Working Together to Strengthen Rural Schools
This investment will strengthen programs, services and staffing for rural schools, as recommended by Dr. Rozanski.
The McGuinty government recognizes that schools boards are in the best position to determine local needs. This new funding will offer school boards the flexibility they need to meet their needs. Boards may use the funding towards a full-time principal and secretary. They can also use the funding to offer a wider variety of subjects or to reduce the number of classes with combined grades. Boards will be required to report to the government on how this new funding is used.
This $31-million allocation represents an important step in the overall facilities review to be conducted this fall. The government is looking at a variety of factors that relate to ensuring Ontario's schools are good places to learn and hubs for their communities, including:
- use of schools by community groups
- impact of cap on class size on school space
- guidelines for closing schools
- government's $2-billion investment in school repairs and renovations
- guidelines for capital investment.